By Mark A. Plummer, Chestnut Exploration By taking a deeper dive into the fracking ban in Denton, Texas, it can help all involved parties better understand what this means for state of energy in Texas. Recently, Denton County announced a temporary ban on hydraulic fracturing, making it the first governing body in Texas to prohibit this method of extracting natural gas. This ban has caused quite a controversy between Denton residents and the companies banned from fracking. What is fracking? Fracking is an environmentally safe, human-conscientious method for the U.S. to produce oil and natural gas. Fracking is also not a new concept. More than 120 years ago, oil companies would drop dynamite or TNT down into old Pennsylvania and Pennzoil wells at 244 m (800 ft) of depth to explode and stimulate the reservoir. This type of fracking dates back to the earliest days of oil field development. Political issues There is a great need for our country to be energy independent, and fracking is one method that has helped make natural gas one of the most abundant energy supplies in the U.S. However, fracking has become a political issue because while Americans want cheap energy, nobody wants fracking to take place in their backyard. Just as most communities want to dispose of their garbage, they do not want to live near the garbage dump. Most of us prefer to have those kinds of things out of sight and out of mind. The same concept applies to producing oil, and an easier place to produce and frack a well is in a rural setting as opposed to urban settings. The public’s fear stems from not understanding what is going on deep underground. In any sense, cities also have the right to govern within their borders. If they do not want fracking within their city limits, they have to sacrifice the jobs, economic boosts in capital, influx in visitors and the tax base associated with that production. What happened in Denton? Unfortunately, one bad apple can spoil the whole barrel. In this case, the oil industry shouldn’t be stained by one company that did not follow safety guidelines and whose negligence could have potentially hurt people. Specifically in Denton, there are some issues and controversy concerning toxic exposure and the handling of chemicals on the surface. However, this controversy has nothing to do with the actual frack operation, but with the handling of the chemicals. In the oil industry, just like any other industrial setting, individuals must handle chemicals in the same way they would handle chemicals under their kitchen sink—very carefully. Unfortunately, the company operating in Denton may not have properly handled the chemicals it uses in its remediation and cleaning process. The bottom line is, the community’s exposure to chemicals does not come from the frack underground, but from the operations of this particular company above the ground. Keep fracking safe It is the producing oil company’s responsibility to abide by the rules set forth to protect the landowners, its employee and the public. In order to protect our communities, oil companies must follow procedures and ensure safety for all parties. Chestnut complies with all safety regulations with the highest regard to protect our community, the environment and our neighbors. It is Chestnut’s hope that other companies follow our example so fracking will continue to help Texas lead the nation to energy independence. Mark A. Plummer is the owner and CEO of Chestnut Exploration. This blog post originally appeared on the company’s website.
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