The Eagle Ford Shale and Permian Basin have served as the backdrop to many million-dollar stories in Southwest Texas. Fracking technologies have given oil and gas companies access to the large stores of natural gas and oil deep below Texas’ surface. Land that once would have sold for a couple thousand dollars an acre is now selling for much more than that or being leased to oil and gas companies in return for monthly royalty checks.
As with any boom, this one is not without its busts:
- Possible groundwater contamination
- Environmental pollutants that cause health issues for nearby residents, including headaches and bloody noses
- Increased large truck traffic on rural roadways unequipped to handle the large scale transport of oil and gas
- Increases in serious and fatal motor vehicle accidents
- Earthquakes and tremors
For those in LaSalle County and elsewhere in South Texas, these side effects of a booming oil and gas economy likely won’t go away soon. Drilling began in the Eagle Ford Shale play just six years ago. The region now boasts 7,000 existing or planned oil or gas wells.
The oil well flares that are commonplace in the South Texas landscape are an indicator of the consequences of the oil and gas boom. The more flares or the stronger the flares, the more methane gas that is being released into the surrounding area. These flares burn off excess natural gas and emit other potentially harmful greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
As the shale boom continues to drive economic opportunity in South Texas, some worry about what will happen when the shale reserves dry up. No timeframe has been predicted, but at some point, these non-renewable resources will no longer be available for extraction.
Source: USA Today, “Oil! New Texas boom spawns riches, headaches,” January 15, 2013