Hydraulic fracturing operations planned for suburbs, mid-sized towns and large metropolitan areas, as opposed to the no-less-toxic rural sites more commonly known, are becoming increasingly common, the Guardian's Suzanne Goldenberg reports Wednesday—pointing to one suburban town in Texas that has become rife with backyard drilling wells and the stench of fracking at every front door.
Communities across the U.S. continue to battle the industry over how close drilling sites can come to heavily populated areas; however, as Goldenberg reports, in Gardendale, Texas where residents have little legal ground to stand on in the fight against fracking—due to zoning laws and a state that limits property owners' control over the extraction of oil and minerals underneath their land—we can find a prime example of what might happen to other communities across the country should they lose those battles.
"You can hear it, you can smell it, and you are always breathing it. It's just like being behind a car exhaust," said Debbie Leverett, during a tour of the area last October organized by the Society of Environmental Journalists. "All of your senses change."
Gardendale, a suburb of 1,500 people near the hub of the west Texas oil industry, exists in a legal and political environment in which there are seemingly few restrictions on fracking, even inside city limits. For residents here, fracking is part of daily life. [...]
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Over the last few years oil companies have drilled 51 wells in Gardendale, an area that covers about 11 square miles – and that's just the start.
Berry Petroleum, the main oil developer, plans to drill as many as 300 wells in Gardendale. "Berry's current plan is to drill approximately 140 wells on 40-acre spacing in and around the Gardendale area," Jeff Coyle, a company spokesman, wrote in an email. "Additionally, we are preparing to conduct a pilot study on 20-acre spacing and, if those test results are encouraging and economic conditions warrant, we may drill up to 160 additional wells."
Some of those wells will be drilled within 150 feet of residents' front doors – far closer than in other towns in Texas.
For more, read this story at the Guardian here.