Regulatory Negligence Endangers Texas Citizens As Eagle Ford Fracking Impacts Soar

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There’s no denying that Texas is the state that dirty energy built.  It remains the single largest source of domestically produced oil in the United States, and currently has more fracking wells than any other state.  With an abundant supply of dirty energy money, the state government of Texas is completely owned by the dirty energy industry.

This trifecta of industry domination is playing itself out in southern Texas, in what has become a no man’s land for federal regulators.

According to a new report by Earthworks, energy companies drilling in the Eagle Ford Shale basin are wreaking havoc on both the environment and the people, and federal regulators have essentially abandoned the area.  This exodus of oversight has led to an increase in environmental abuses by the dirty energy industry.

But it wasn’t always this way in Texas.  According to Earthworks, regulators have been present in the area, and even carried out some needed investigations into the damage caused by drillers.  

But what the regulators found was so horrible that they had to evacuate themselves, and that was the last that residents in the area heard from them.

The level of volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) around fracking sites had grown so large that the federal regulators and investigators were forced to leave the areas.  But instead of issuing evacuation orders for residents – even residents who live less than one mile from as many as a dozen fracking wells – the investigators made absolutely no effort to warn citizens, or to put an end to the dirty energy industry’s activities.

A few key points from the report:

Despite finding oil and gas air pollution too dangerous for its own investigators, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) did not act to protect the public.

TCEQ did not take any meaningful steps to penalize the operator or prevent future violations.

These conclusions highlight a lack of attention and concern for the citizens by government regulators to even try to understand and prevent the impacts of Eagle Ford Shale development on public health.

The following video from Earthworks tells the story of what is happening in the Eagle Ford Shale area:

What has happened in Eagle Ford is a prime example of what can happen when both the state legislatures and federal agencies are so beholden to big business. In Texas’s case, TCEQ became so completely impotent they can no longer perform their jobs. 

But the oil industry doesn’t care.  They aren’t the ones living downwind from a fracking well or downstream from a wastewater dump.  The victims are low-income, impoverished Americans who lack the means to escape, and to the dirty energy industry, those lives are expendable.

Farron Cousins is the executive editor of The Trial Lawyer magazine, and his articles have appeared on The Huffington Post, Alternet, and The Progressive Magazine. He has worked for the Ring of Fire radio program with hosts Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Mike Papantonio, and Sam Seder since August 2004, and is currently the co-host and producer of the program. He also currently serves as the co-host of Ring of Fire on Free Speech TV, a daily program airing nightly at 8:30pm eastern. Farron received his bachelor's degree in Political Science from the University of West Florida in 2005 and became a member of American MENSA in 2009.  Follow him on Twitter @farronbalanced.

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