The Environmental Protection Agency wants local input about how it should regulate the natural gas wells around DFW during a public meeting on Thursday.
The meeting, one of four taking place across the country, begins at 6 p.m. at the Hilton Fort Worth. Concerned citizens will have the opportunity to be heard by the EPA on the issue of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Those planning to attend can register in advance, but “walk-ins” will be permitted to register on site.
Fracking is a process used in the natural gas drilling, when workers break apart the earth with millions of gallons of water, sand and other chemicals mixed together. A study (PDF) conducted by the EPA in 2004 found that the process was not a threat to drinking water.
That study helped lead to the exemption of hydraulic fracturing regulation in the 2005 provisions to an energy bill under the Safe Drinking Water Act, rendering the EPA unable regulate the chemicals used in the fracking process. In June, two bills were introduced to the House (PDF) and Senate (PDF) that would require the energy industry to disclose the chemicals used the fracking process.
The meeting will help the EPA draft future regulation and studies of air and water pollution as well as regulation, according to John Rath, an executive committee member for the Sierra Club's Lone Star chapter. Rath said he knows of at least 75 people attending, but expects several hundred because of the passion surrounding the issue.
Rath said the Sierra Club is hoping to hear its stance reinforced by the citizens. He said the Sierra Club wants to know what chemicals being used in the fracking process, a comprehensive analysis of the water and air pollution caused by fracking, and for the release of that information to be done quickly. Rath also said they want the regional differences of the gas wells to be addressed.
But some locals are concerned -- not just about the drinking water -- but earthquakes, noise, and air pollution. Sandra DenBraber lives 600 feet east of a natural gas well on the University of Texas in Arlington campus. She describes herself as a canary in a coal mine when it comes to the carbon monoxide released by the gas well.
“I don’t have gas in my home and it smelled like an oil refinery,” she said. “I am a strong advocate that they can do all of this without using diesel exhaust.”
DenBraber said she will probably attend the meeting because she feels these types of meetings are important.
“There have to be voices,” she said. “I am a voice, and I will speak up against drilling, and how they are doing it.”