Published on:

Air Pollution Caused by Barnett Shale Drilling

A study (
Armendariz Study.pdf) published last February by Al Armendariz, an engineering professor at Southern Methodist University, concluded that gas drilling in the Barnett Shale contributes about as much air pollution to the D-FW area as emissions from cars and trucks. Dr. Armendariz’s study was financed by the Environmental Defense Fund. Dr. Armendariz concluded that in the nine counties included in the D-FW metroplex area, gas drilling produced about 112 tons per day of pollution, compared with 120 tons per day from vehicle traffic. Dr. Armendariz suggested that pollution from drilling activities could be greatly reduced by requiring vapor recovery units on tank batteries and “green completions” of wells to prevent gas from being vented when a well is being completed.

Representatives of the industry quickly refuted Dr. Armendariz’s conclusions, arguing that his facts were all wrong

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has reviewed Dr. Armendariz’s report and finds its conclusions consistent with the TCEQ’s own analysis. Andrea Morrow, a spokeswoman for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, was quoted by the Fort Worth Star Telegram as saying that “The estimates Dr. Armendariz provides for individual source categories are comparable to the TCEQ estimates.”  TCEQ estimates that gas drilling in the nine-county area generates 90 tons per day of pollution.

The D-FW metroplex area is a designated “non-attainment zone,” required by the Environmental Protecton Agency to take measures to reduce the amount of ground-level ozone. The TCEQ believes that the best way to reduce ozone levels is to regulate nitrous oxides by reducing pollution from cars and trucks. A bill to require green completions in the Barnett Shale died in the recent Texas legislative session.

Expect future efforts to require companies to take measures to reduce venting of methane and volatile organic compounds in oil and gas exploration activities.

Contact Information