Environmentalists Concerns May Halt Oil and Gas Lease Auction in Texas

by Elizabeth Alford on November 24, 2016

Concerns over earthquakes might interfere with an upcoming North Texas lease sale if environmentalists have their way.

Related: Texas on Short List for Fracking-Induced Earthquakes

The Bureau of Land Management plans to hold an auction for oil and gas leases on federal land in Texas next spring. But several environmental groups have banded together to ask the agency to withdraw the proposed lease sale of 3,100 acres that are beneath dams storing water supplies for Corpus Christi and Brenham.

The Center for Biological Diversity, Clean Water Action and Sierra Club send a joint letter to the BLM to voice their concerns and demand action. The group cites fears that fracking might trigger earthquakes that could harm the dam infrastructure and threaten the water source for half a million Texans.

“We insist that BLM: (1) cease all new leasing of fossil fuels in the planning area, including oil and natural gas; or, at a minimum (2) withdraw the proposed April 2017 sale pending a programmatic review of all federal fossil fuel leasing which must consider a ‘no leasing’ and ‘no fracking’ plan amendments.”

The group also says that the current Environmental Assessment is “unlawfully deficient” and insist that if the BLM continues with the sale, they should:

  • 1) Initiate formal consultation with the Fish and Wildlife Service, as required by the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”)
  • 2) Prepare a full EIS for the proposed lease sale that considers a full range of alternatives, including an alternative that bans new hydraulic fracturing and other unconventional well stimulation activities, and require strict controls on natural gas emissions and leakage

The topic of fracking and earthquakes in Texas has continued to be controversial, with interests on both sides citing scientific evidence that supports their claims.  In April, The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) released a forecast for 2016 that include maps identifying potential seismic events from both human-induced and natural earthquakes.

 Read more at biological diversity.com

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