Environmental groups raise concerns over Texas oil find; Apache to work with UTA

HOUSTON (AP) — Some environmental organizations have raised concerns about a reported big oil and gas discovery in West Texas.

Several environmental groups are scrutinizing plans to drill around Balmorhea State Park and its famous spring-fed pool, according to the Houston Chronicle (http://bit.ly/2eDvvgQ ).

Houston-based Apache Corp. last month announced plans for drilling after projecting up to 3 billion barrels of oil and 75 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in an area it calls Alpine High.

The group called Earthworks has commissioned an assessment of the potential risks to the local waters. Representatives from Earthworks, a group that is mobilizing locals to protect the region’s natural resources, have met with area residents at least three times about the concerns that oil and gas drilling might pollute the air and water.

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The Nature Conservancy plans to begin testing water quality on several sites it owns in the area.

“Ultimately, we hope to gain assurances that regional springs and aquifers will continue to be protected,” spokeswoman Vanessa Martin said.

While Apache agreed to fund the study with a $136,000 grant to the University of Texas at Arlington, Earthworks said Friday that Apache is already polluting the air. The company declined to comment on the claims, but said it is taking environmental responsibility very seriously and will worth with the university scientists to study the area’s water quality. This is the first time an oil company has agreed to share with university researchers the chemical mixture it uses for drilling.

Legal specialists have said that as long as Apache has leased the land and met state requirements for drilling permits, residents opposing the drilling will have few options to stop it.

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