While many people associate the oil and gas boom as a renaissance for Texas and the cities and towns that have benefitted from the influx of jobs and infusion of resources, the boom also has its drawbacks. A recent report by the KENS5 I-Team noted that the burden on rural counties, particularly in the Eagle Ford Shale region, is acute.
Emergency services are stretched to the limit, dealing with oil and gas related crises with volunteer firefighters. Rural roads are traveled to their breaking point as commercial truck traffic travels farm to market roads not intended to be business thoroughfares. LaSalle County alone has reported a 900 percent increase in fatal traffic accidents in the last four years.
Volunteer firefighters need additional training and equipment to be prepared for disasters that can follow a gas leak or an oil rig explosion. At least one county would like to see its volunteer firefighters turned into a permanent fixture. Whether that means a full-time staff, rotating part-timers or some other scenario was not reported.
The boom has left some counties with the burden of paying for emergency services related to oil and gas accidents despite their own lack of revenue from the boom. Frio County specifically is home to multiple wastewater wells that house the byproducts of fracking operations elsewhere in the state but has not had the economic boom from oil and gas revenue to support the additional demands of truck traffic and the need for first responders.
Source: KENS5, “I-Team: Eagle Ford oil and gas brings challenges to rural VFD’s and EMT’s,” November 18, 2013