In Texas, oil and gas companies get away with ignoring the rules that protect drinking water

A scathing investigation by WFAA in Texas has found that oil and gas companies are ignoring a significant state rule that is intended to protect underground sources of drinking water.

And despite apparent "numerous violations" of state regulations, the agency in charge of overseeing the oil and gas industry--the Texas Railroad Commission--has not been enforcing its own rules.

WFAA's investigation found instances where companies are not complying with the law, perhaps because they do not understand geology or their own technology (which is hard to believe), they are sloppy in their record-keeping, or they are knowingly falsifying records to avoid compliance with the rules.

The Railroad Commission's explanation for dismissing a complaint about one of these violations is even harder to believe: that it would take a "geologist with local knowledge to interpret" the data provided about the alleged violation. Isn't that the agency's job?

As I've blogged recently, scientific investigations have found drinking water contamination linked to fracking in both the Barnett Shale and Eagle Ford Shale areas of Texas.

It's unconscionable that Texas regulators are not strictly enforcing their rules with significant penalties, including shutting down operators who either can't or won't comply with rules to protect drinking water.

About the Authors

Amy Mall

Senior Policy Analyst, Land & Wildlife program

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