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Texas Looks at Tougher Rules for Fracking Safety

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Innovations in "fracking" processes have driven Texas' ongoing oil boom. Fracking refers to methods of injecting chemical-laden water into shale deposits that lie far below ground level - this forces oil and natural gas to the surface where companies can process and sell it.

While fracking has had some economic benefits for Texas and the rest of the nation, it is not without problems. Some of the biggest concerns involve the strong likelihood of water and ground contamination in fracking areas. Texas regulators on the Railroad Commission are working on new proposed rules to govern fracking activities in the state. If these rules go into effect, they will hopefully help reduce this kind of property damage for Texas landowners.

Fracking can cause significant damage in several ways. At a basic level, the process involves pumping enormous amounts of toxic chemicals into the ground. These chemicals can easily leak into groundwater sources like aquifers - in fact, as of 2008, this had already occurred in 10 separate incidents in Texas. Fracking wells are also vulnerable to "blowouts." When a blowout occurs, oil and drilling chemicals spew violently into the air where they can contaminate surrounding property.

These new rules focus on "well integrity." Among other requirements, oil companies will have use stronger cement linings, conduct pressure tests and install more sophisticated systems to control blowouts.

Even if these rules do take effect, accidents will still occur. Fortunately, Texas landowners do have options. An experienced oil and gas trial lawyer can help these property owners hold the fracking companies accountable for contamination-related damage.

Source: The Texas Tribune, "Texas Regulators Prepare Major Drilling Rule Changes," Kate Galbraith, Dec. 10, 2012

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