Texas gas headaches

When discussing rules for gas drilling, advocates for the energy industry frequently cite Texas as a contrast to Colorado. In the Lone Star State, drilling permits are approved quickly and the burden of state or local regulation is minimal.

That may be changing, however.

Officials in Fort Worth are raising concerns about air pollutants — especially benzene — being released during drilling operations that often occur in residential areas in that city. They are contemplating rewriting their rules on drilling.

State regulators are also taking notice. A recent state study examined drilling and natural gas facilities outside Fort Worth city limits. The study found highly elevated levels of benzene at a number of those sites, according to various news reports. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is working with energy companies to come up with a solution to the problem, according to the article.

Colorado adopted stricter rules on air quality and gas development in 2006, even before it passed new drilling rules last year. That was sensible. Protecting the environment while encouraging development of natural gas is a difficult balancing act, but one that must be undertaken, as people in Texas are beginning to realize.


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