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Environmentalists Examine The Long-Term Costs Of Fracking

Mike Norton
Wikimedia Commons

An environmental group has released the results of a study that details the cost of the new oil boom known as “Fracking.”  Fracking extracts oil and gas from the ground by injecting well sites with a high-pressurized mixture of water, salts and chemicals (see above graphic).

Environment Texas chartered a study of how much fracking costs Texas landowners and cities in terms of damaged roads, contamination, and pollution.

"Texas’ financial insurance standards are inadequate,” explains Luke Metzger, director of Environment Texas.

Metzger says oil companies using the “Fracking” method are only required to be bonded as far as insurance goes for $20-thousand dollars, but he says the cost to clean up  one well is over $100-thousand dollars.   

He says, "it’s a problem the state has seen before.  Last year alone the state of Texas paid over 250-million dollars cleaning up the sites of former wells left over from the 1980s oil boom. 

Metzger says, “Right now Texas has about 8,400 wells that still need to be plugged from the previous oil and gas boom.  And the Railroad Commission only says they’re going to plug about 815 this coming year.  So at that rate it’s going to take about a decade to plug them all and meanwhile their a serious risk of contamination of water supplies.” 

One of the other big costs is air quality issues for major cities near close to these sites.

“San Antonio is getting very close to failing Federal Air Quality Standards," says Metzger.  "[Falling into non-compliance] could come with millions or tens of millions of dollars or more in costs to become compliant and now air pollution from fracking is contributing to San Antonio’s smog-problem."

He says Environment Texas is hoping their study results in the state increasing the amount of money each fracking company is bonded for in order to operate in Texas.