Texas: Natural Gas Blast in Johnson County, EPA Approves Potential BP Spill Solution

Johnson County Gas Pipeline Explosion

While the BP rig is still gushing oil out into the ocean, several events (positive and negative ones) have taken place in Texas without receiving the coverage they deserve. I wanted to shed some light on those events.

One bright point to start your day is a Texas Tech researcher who has received EPA approval for his fibertect product that can potentially be a “slick solution for the biggest environmental disaster in the US history.”  Essentially, it’s the Shamwow for oil spills. We don’t often say this in Austin, but go Texas Tech!

Some (especially those in the natural gas industry) say that instead of depending on Middle East oil, the US should invest in natural gas, a resource that is being advertised to the public as environment-friendly and associated with less risk. Yesterday’s news stories that came from Johnson County suggest otherwise. One of the operators in Johnson County’s Pecan Plantation died as a result of a pipeline explosion while several others were dangerously burned and taken to nearby hospitals. The pipeline exploded after it was ruptured by the crew that was working on it.

The pipe, owned by Enterprise Products Partners, shot up more than 600 feet skyward for about two hours. The blast shook the windows of homes in Hood County where more than 5,000 people reside only three miles from the plantation.

Texas is familiar with the risk associated with natural gas. According to Star-telegram, more than 20 blowouts have taken place only at Barnett Shale wells, along with, well, all the other pollution they’ve been spewing (and TCEQ has been covering up).  In addition to the death that is caused on site, such explosions and blowouts pose a threat to the air we breathe and the water we drink.

These toxic emissions, which have also been tied to a cancer cluster, triggered the council of Flower Mound to unanimously vote for a moratorium to halt natural gas drilling in the area, “We’re going to do an A-to-Z review of the ordinance […]We will put in place something that protects all of Flower Mound,” said Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Tom Hayden.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: All of this comes back to our reliance on fossil fuels and regulation. Whether it’s oil, coal, or even natural gas, there are inherent risks in extracting these fuels from the earth and dangerous, toxic emissions that come from burning them.  To date, no one has been killed in a “wind spill” or “solar spill.” We ultimately need less of the fossil fuel resources, no matter their source, and more renewables. Oftentimes small government advocates and conservatives warn against regulation because of the cost it can create.  We never advocate for regulation merely for the sake of regulation, but we NEED smart regulation that places a premium on human life and quality of life over the search for more corporate profits. All of these stories have this theme in common: common sense regulation through a smart regulatory agency, which is something we have lacked from TCEQ.   End of line.


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