A quick plug for an amazing five-part series currently running in the Denton Record-Chronicle about the problems drilling on the Barnett Shale is having. Rig explosions, flooding, mudslides, neighborhood clashes, legal battles, vandalism– it’s like “There Will Be Blood” except happening today… and in Denton. Somebody get T. Boone Pickens on the phone– isn’t he in this movie?
The really scary thing? The Railroad Commission, which is supposed to regulate oil and gas drilling in the state, has two of its three members running for Senate in 2010 in a crowded field. Competing for campaign donations, will either of them dare cross the gas companies? Do we expect them to side with consumers and homeowners, or will they side with the corporate interests? So far, at least, it doesn’t seem like anyone from the EPA to the Railroad Commission is looking after the health and environmental effects urban drilling is causing.
Part 1: Eminent Dominance Expansion of natural gas industry into Barnett Shale leaves Argyle families little recourse
Jennifer Cole stepped across the parched ground of a North Texas autumn, past her dirt-caked backyard swimming pool, inching closer to a roaring machine. She watched it force its way through the earth, pushing dirt from side to side in waves like an ocean’s tide. Day by day, the bulldozer was remaking the lot behind her home on Britt Drive near Argyle, changing a sloped meadow dotted with oak trees and cattle into a flat and lifeless expanse. She shivered when she thought about what would fill the void.
Since the dirt-moving process began, dust clouds became so thick that her boys couldn’t make sense of them. “Mom, look! A sandstorm,” one said. Her sons didn’t understand why she wouldn’t let them use the pool or play outside after school. She looked down at the pool where a layer of grime clung to the bottom like black frosting, then back to the rolling bulldozer on the other side of the barbed-wire fence.
Cole didn’t know that what was happening behind that fence would consume the next three years of her life. She did know what the bulldozer meant, though. A gas rig was coming. It was Dec. 4, 2005 — a Sunday.
“Sunday,” she said above the roar, “is no day of rest.”