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Report: Texas Not Protecting Residents From Gas Drilling Dangers

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) - A scathing new report accuses Texas of not protecting its residents from possible dangers of gas drilling. The report comes from the Texas Oil and Gas Accountability Project, part of the Washington-based group Earthworks.

The report recommends restrictions on emissions, new rules to contain drilling fluids and an evaluation on the amount of groundwater being pulled out of the aquifier for drilling.

"There's things they can do and should do to protect our welfare and health, and they're not doing it," said Kelly Gant, a Denton resident active in pursuing restrictions on exploration in residential areas.

Gant claims that she and her family have suffered from severe asthma attacks and skin problems since moving into a home near several wells two years ago.

She said it has led to emergency room visits for she and her son. "All five doctors asked me the same question, 'What have you been exposed to?' And I just looked at them and said, I don't know what I've been exposed to."

The report comes just days after the drilling industry started its own website to report some of the chemicals used during the process known as fracking. A water, sand and chemical cocktail is injected into shale, creating fractures that allow gas to escape to the surface.

Since the website went online Monday, more than 50 wells in the North Texas region have been listed, including 12 in Tarrant County, 13 in Denton, 20 in Wise and 6 in Johnson.

"Most companies haven't had a problem with the concept of transparency. "Its just maybe the mechanism, internal and external, to get that information out," said Ed Ireland, with the Barnett Shale Energy Education Council.

According to Ireland, five state air monitors around the region have not turned up unhealthy air near wells.

Any attempt to place a moratorium on drilling he said, to wait for more data about health effects, just isn't needed. "There's a lot of experience with how to drill these wills and how to operate these wells and you don't have to wait for anything," he said. "It's there. That information exists."

More than 15,000 wells have been drilled, but only those that started since January are going up on the website.

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