Eight More Air Quality Monitors for North Texas

Fort Worth Star Telegram

August 23, 2010

By: Mike Lee

FORT WORTH — State environmental regulators, under heavy prodding from the Legislature, said Monday that they’re installing new equipment to check for possible air pollution from gas drilling in the Barnett Shale.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality will install eight automated gas chromatographs throughout the Barnett Shale gas field by December, TCEQ Chairman Brian Shaw said. The agency already has seven monitors in the region measuring 45 volatile organic compounds, including benzene, a known human carcinogen.

A third-party company will analyze the data, Shaw said.

Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief said he welcomed any new data on drilling-related pollution, although others questioned the timing of the announcement and said the state needs to go further in protecting the public.

“As far as we’re concerned, this is clearly a case of ‘the more, the merrier.'” Moncrief said during a news conference.

State Sen. Troy Fraser and State Rep. Byron Cook, who lead two of the environment-related committees in the Legislature, said they pushed for the expanded testing. Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, is chairman of the Senate Natural Resources Committee, and Cook, R-Corsicana, is chairman of the House Environmental Regulation Committee.

“That’s one of the first questions I asked:’What are we doing in the Barnett Shale?'” Fraser said.

The program is expected to cost about $2 million and Fraser said lawmakers are exploring several options for funding.

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