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THE PROGRESSIVE FORUM Great Speakers, Great Theater AN EVENING WITH Al Gore On Global Warming: An Inconvenient Truth WEDNESDAY, JUNE 7 Houston’s Hobby Center, 800 Bagby 6:30 p.m. Patron Reception, Founders Club 7:30 p.m. Program, Sarofim Hall Al Gore, the 45th Vice President of the United States, will present a visually stunning, multi-media presentation called An Inconvenient Truth,” an inspiring, nonpartisan message on the urgent need to solve global warming with solutions that strengthen our economy. After his speech, Mr. Gore will sign his new book, also called An Inconvenient Truth, which will be on sale at the event. FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE PROGRESSIVE FORUM CALL 713.-664-0020 FOR TICKETS WWW.PROGRESSIVEFORUMHOUSTON.ORG CALL THE BOX OFFICE AT 713-315-2525 OPTION 1 OR VISIT THE BOX OFFICE AT THE HOBBY CENTER AT 800 BAGBY STREET regulations and monitoring to protect their water wells. “You all need to be looking at this,” Chico Director of Public Works Ed Cowley told the Railroad Commission staff during one of the meetings. “They said it would never happen, and it happened twice.” Injection fluids came up from two abandoned wells and from one active oil well. All three were more than a quarter mile away from the source injection well. Residents in the area were also worried about their water wells and contaminated ground water. In spite of family and financial connections to the local oil and gas industry, many residents signed a petition expressing opposition and concern about the well. One Chico area resident says he has seen a long line of trees die near the injection well “just a couple of months after they started dumping.” And near Boyd, not far from Chico, many residents complain of too much salt and the rotten-egg smell of hydrogen sulfide, a byproduct of oil and gas production, in their well water. There are reports of people actually touching a match to their running faucet and lighting their water on fire. After the problems in Chico were discovered and reported, the Railroad Commission ordered the injection well owner to seal the leaks and reduce the pressure at which waste fluids were forced underground. Outside of DeBerry, a small community near the LouisianaTexas border, a group of families suffered for years from well water contaminated with salt and hydrocarbons until the leader of a local church decided to fight back. Rev. David Hudson began to make calls to regulatory agencies about an abandoned, leaking injection well in the middle of his neighborhood. “We got every agency you can imagine out here,” says Hudson, “including EPA and even [the Texas] Parks and Wildlife [Department] :’ The EPA documented both saltwater leaking from the well casing and contaminated ground water. [See “The DeBerry Debacle,” Page 9] These discoveries played an important role in the Railroad Commission’s order to Basic Energy Services Inc., the operator of the well, to remediate the problems and monitor the ground water. As of this writing, Basic Energy is in negotiations to settle a lawsuit filed against it by Hudson and the affected families. But many times the exact source of ground water contamination is not easy to identify. Often oil and gas drilling wastes are suspected, but absolute proof is hard to come by. For example, Bolivar Water Supply Co., a drinking water distributor northwest of Fort Worth, drilled a water well around the same time a new injection well was also drilled not far away. The water from the Bolivar well had an unusual spike in sodium chloride. “We had a big rise in sodium,” says Jerry Stell, an administrator for Bolivar. “Everybody I talked to about it, including hydrologists and engineers, said sodium shouldn’t ever rise unless it’s contamination.” Bolivar had to install screens and plug the bottom of the new well to get the sodium levels down to an acceptable level. The company couldn’t prove it was the injection well, but none of its other wells have had similar problems. “They’re putting those injection wells continued on page 18 8 THE TEXAS OBSERVER MAY 19, 2006