Contract that allows "fracking" inside city draws fire from citizens

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Updated: 8/11/2012 12:05 am
The issue of "fracking" has made its way to Lubbock, so concerned citizens made their way to City Council Thursday night, in hopes of reversing plans to allow hydraulic fracturing at three sites around town.

One big concern is that the process of drilling for natural gas will harm the water supply because of chemicals used.

"Fracking has been directly linked to earthquakes and contaminated water wells and ground water, not to mention the hazardous chemicals that well workers and those close to the wells are exposed to," said Lubbock resident Karen Porter.

"Make sure that the fracking process does not contribute more to the pollution of the underground water that we all know is so vital to the entire region," said Frank Falbo.

Mohamed Soliman, Department Chair of Petroleum Engineering at Texas Tech, said we should worry more about what goes on at the surface.

"Your hydraulic fracturing happens a mile, a mile and a half deep, between 5,000 to 7,500 feet, sometimes even deeper," Soliman said. "And there is no reason to expect fracturing fluid to migrate all the way to ground water at only a few hundred feet. It is the drilling of the well, not the hydraulic fracturing, that we have to be concerned about."

The amount of usable water left over, however, is a different story. 

 "If you are going to use your fresh water, then obviously this water is disappearing," Soliman said. "You are depriving your agriculture, your people from that water, and it is a large amount of water, obviously."

Regardless, Soliman feels fracking is necessary for the economy. And in doing their own research, some council members came to the same conclusion. 

 "I didn't find any downsides to that," Councilman Floyd Price said. "I mean, what I read were some rumors and stuff like that. Nothing concrete, nothing scientific."

"I had done enough research that I was comfortable in voting for it, and I would vote for it again today," Councilwoman Karen Gibson said.

Council entered into the contract with Four Sevens Exploration Co. back in March under previous mayor Tom Martin. Mayor Glen Robertson said cancelling the agreement could mean millions of dollars in a lawsuit, and he isn't willing to take that chance."
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