August 29, 2007
Texas Association of Counties
P. O. Box 2131
Austin, Texas 78768-0519
Dear Ms. Norris,
I want to take this opportunity to commend Bosque County Judge, Cole Word, the County Attorney, David Christian, and the four County Commissioners for their recent involvement in supporting the citizens of Kopperl, TX.
Judge Word, the County Attorney, and the four County Commissioners traveled to Austin on Wednesday, August 22, 2007, to attend a two day Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC) hearing concerning a 25,000 bpd commercial oil and gas waste disposal well that was drilled near Kopperl, TX, in February and March, 2007.
Judge Word called a special Commissioners Court Session that was held simultaneously with the RRC hearing in the RRC hearing room in Austin. The hearing recessed after the third day, August 24, and will resume on September 18, 2007.
Judge Word testified at the hearing that the citizens of Kopperl, TX, live in an un-incorporated town and they have no other means of government support for protecting their community other than the County Elected Officials.
The disposal well is located across a county road from a rural subdivision where dozens of citizens will be affected if the RRC approves the injection permit. Only a few citizens received notice of the proposed disposal well and they thought the well was to be drilled in Hill County because of the directions on the applicant’s application to the RRC. This well was drilled and completed prior to the applicant submitting their application to inject waste into it.
There are many technical issues with this disposal well concerning whether or not it meets RRC regulations for safe injection of oil and gas waste and whether or not the groundwater is adequately protected.
The subject of “public interest” was raised and received serious debate over who is better qualified to define “public interest”, the public or the RRC. Bosque County Attorney, David Christian, challenged the RRC Examiners while defending the rights of the Bosque County citizens concerning this issue.
For years, the Railroad Commission of Texas has defined what “public interest” is and who can qualify as an “affected” person. The RRC rules state that only “adjoining” land owners are to be notified and only they can qualify as “affected persons”. The 5 acre tract of land this disposal well is located on was sub-divided and located in the middle of a larger 60.1 acre tract, thereby legally requiring that only one land owner be notified as an “affected person”.
Earlier this year, the citizens of Kopperl sent letters to the RRC opposing two commercial disposal wells that had already been approved by the RRC. These injection permits also contained erroneous locations on their application. The RRC sent letters to the applicant stating that the permits were “issued in error” and the applicant withdrew their applications for these two disposal wells.
Judge Word, the County Attorney, the County Commissioners, and the Citizens of Kopperl and Bosque County, have set an example that other Texas counties should follow to provide local government support to those citizens living in un-incorporated towns and communities.
I encourage the Texas Association of Counties and County Elected Officials in other Texas Counties to take note of the effort by the Bosque County Officials and hopefully work towards developing a coalition of County Governments to support the citizens of Texas that are fighting to protect their families, communities, and our most precious natural resource – water.
Panola County, in East Texas, has been fighting groundwater contamination from a commercial oil and gas waste disposal facility since 1996. We don’t need another Panola County incident in Texas.
President, Erath County Citizens for Clean Water
Cole Word, Bosque County Judge (Via Email)
Tab Thompson, Erath County Judge (Via Email)
Sid Miller, State Representative, District 59 (Via Email)
Troy Fraser, State Senator, District 24 (Via Email)
Rob Orr, State Representative, District 58 (Via Email)
Kip Everitt, State Senator, District 22 (Via Fax : 512- 475-3729)