Chesapeake works to be a good environmental steward and to employ a number of Best Management Practices to protect our community. This is contrary to other Barnett Shale studies, including those performed by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).
Current Air Quality
In 1991, long before natural gas drilling became active in the Barnett Shale, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declared the greater Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) region an ozone nonattainment area. This designation means that the air quality in the North Texas area has not met the standards to reduce emissions set by the EPA and the TCEQ.
According to the TCEQ and EPA, car and truck emissions are by far the largest sources and contributors to ozone formation in the nine-county DFW nonattainment area.
Recent Emissions Studies
A variety of investigators has extensively studied the air quality impacts of shale gas. This body of work has concluded that Barnett shale operations are not adversely affecting air quality or health.
The TCEQ is the environmental agency for Texas. It strives to protect the state's human and natural resources consistent with sustainable economic development. The organization’s goal is clean air, clean water and the safe management of waste.
On October 17, 2012 TCEQ’s Toxicology Division issued its annual review of all air monitoring sites in the DFW Region and concluded that all hourly and annual average concentrations of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and carbonyls were below short-term and long-term air monitoring comparison values (AMCVs) and would not be expected to cause short-term or long-term health effects, vegetation effects, or odor concerns.
Throughout much of 2010 the TCEQ tested, monitored and inspected hundreds of natural gas sites across the Barnett Shale in Tarrant, Johnson and Dallas counties. It used Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) cameras, air monitors and toxic vapor analyzers to provide real-time detection and estimation of total volatile organic compound (VOC) concentrations. The study monitored 94 sites across five counties and found only two locations in Wise County (non-Chesapeake sites) that would trigger immediate actions to reduce emissions. Both sides were soon corrected.
Similar results were released in November 2010 by the Mickey Leland Foundation, which noted that emissions were hard to find and when found, the concentrations diminished quickly to background levels. Additional research performed by Kleinfelder in Flower Mound, Texas, also found few emissions and nothing to raise concerns.
On January 27, 2010, the TCEQ issued its much-anticipated survey results from data collected during fall 2009. The results reinforced initial regional findings and industry assertions that natural gas production in Tarrant County does not negatively impact ambient air quality. "There’s no need for widespread alarm," said Toxicology Division Director Dr. Michael Honeycutt during a press conference at the TCEQ’s regional Fort Worth office.
In addition, TCEQ’s
- Fort Worth study published in 2010 reviewed 126 locations and found no sites with high levels of benzene.
- Existing monitoring stations near natural gas and oil production have shown a decrease in benzene levels for the past decade.
- Efforts will add two long-term monitoring locations in Eagle Mountain Lake and DISH, Texas.
For more information about the TCEQ, visit tceq.state.tx.us/.
Privately Funded Studies
A privately-funded air emission study conducted at a Westworth Village, Texas, farm has conclusions that are contradictory to the TCEQ. The study represented data incorrectly, was limited in scope, and exaggerated the potential hazards. Industrial Hygiene and Safety Technology, Inc., an outside consultant retained by Fort Worth to review the study, indicated the results from the Westworth Village study were rudimentary and inaccurate. A similar investigation with limited scope was conducted in DISH, Texas, which failed to attribute emissions to natural gas development rather than other industries or agriculture.
Click here to download or read the IHST study review.
The Barnett Shale Energy Education Council (BSEEC) released the results of its air quality testing project which showed no harmful levels of benzene and other compounds are being emitted from natural gas sites tested in Fort Worth and Arlington City Council District 2. The study was conducted by TITAN Engineering, Inc. to assess ambient air quality surrounding natural gas operations. In total 10 sites were tested, including two compressor stations recommended by the City of Fort Worth and eight producing wellsites, including condensate-producing and dry natural gas wells.
Click here for more information or to see the Fort Worth study.
The TCEQ has found the production of natural gas in Tarrant, western Dallas and eastern Johnson counties generates little to no benzene air emissions. Most of the natural gas produced by Chesapeake in the Barnett Shale has 0.001% or 1/1,000 of 1% benzene in the gas stream, compared to approximately 0.5 to 1% in gasoline.
- A colorless chemical produced from a variety of natural and industrial sources
- Not unique to the natural gas industry
- Ranked in the top 20 chemicals used for the production of industrial products measured by volume
- Found in tobacco smoke, gas stations emissions, motor vehicle exhaust, building materials, fireplaces and industrial emissions
Click here for more information on benzene.