Shale Stories

“Her coverage over several years of the gas-drilling boom in North Texas shed light on its attendant problems that helped change the tenor of the conversation nationwide. … ”  — Fort Worth Weekly, Critic’s choice for best DFW print journalist 2013 (and again in 2015)

Many stories published within the past 12 months are available on the open archives of the Denton Record-Chronicle. Older stories can be found in NewsBank, a database accessible through many public libraries. Also, here is a list of resources for journalists, a document I helped prepare for a tour. HF2.0Primer

You can find a link to our first award-winning series on the Barnett Shale on my clips page. Our subsequent series, Citizens of the Shale, was produced together with graduate students from the University of North Texas Mayborn School of Journalism.

Start here if you are looking for more information about the history covering breast cancer concerns. Here’s the most recent story.

Below is a synopsis of most stories published from January 2006 to the present, including many, but not all, that were published with Lowell Brown. He also has a great body of work covering the shale, but you’ll have to look for it in NewsBank.

Published 2015-8-30 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
When a breath is hard to catch
Denton County’s hazy air quality has implications for the young.

Published 2015-9-12 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Suits against city being dismissed
Texas Oil and Gas Association reserves right to sue city over any future rules.

Published 2015-6-17 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Ban on hydraulic fracturing repealed
Denton’s seven-month-old ban on hydraulic fracturing fell early Wednesday morning in what city leaders dubbed a “strategic repeal.”

Published 2015-2-20 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Fracking case is on the move
A Travis County judge has ordered the state’s case against the city’s ban on hydraulic fracturing to move to Denton County. State District Judge Tim Sulak also upheld the city’s objection to a last-minute, amended petition from the Texas General Land Office meant to keep the case in Travis County.

Published 2015-2-19 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
No ruling given in fracking case
AUSTIN — A Travis County judge heard arguments Wednesday morning on whether the state’s case against Denton’s ban on hydraulic fracturing should be moved to Denton County.

Published 2015-1-15 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Judge assigned to industry lawsuit against fracking ban
An administrative judge has assigned the industry’s lawsuit against Denton’s ban on hydraulic fracturing to Denton District Judge Sherry Shipman, court records show.
The Texas Oil and Gas Association’s lawsuit challenging the ban on constitutional grounds was originally assigned to the 431st District Court. Denton District Judge Jonathan Bailey recused himself from presiding over the case in mid-December, but gave no reason for his actions.

$500,000 spent trying to turn tide just before vote
Energy industry supporters spent more than $500,000 in the final days of an unsuccessful $1.1 million campaign to defeat Denton’s ban on fracking, according to campaign finance reports filed Thursday. The amount dwarfs not only the $76,000 spent by the ban’s proponents but also the other $92,000 spent by other local political committees that supported new liquor laws and a city bond package. With more than $1.2 million raised and spent, November’s election will likely stay in the record books as the most expensive in the city’s history for a long time to come.

Published 2014-12-17 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
More time for drilling changes
About 30 people turned out for a public hearing Tuesday night, giving about an hour of testimony on the city’s innovative amendments to the gas well ordinance and asking for more time to review it. The public hearing was convened jointly between the Denton Planning and Zoning Commission and the City Council and was preceded by a presentation that was frequently interrupted by questions from both bodies, lasting about 90 minutes.

Published 2014-12-16 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Meeting explores drilling changes
Questions from the audience Monday night focused primarily on two new programs the city has proposed in amending its gas well ordinance, beefed-up inspections and “co-locations” for pad sites. The city unveiled details in a formal presentation for the crowd, including its plan to have energy companies select a single location for the gas wells they want to operate. The “co-location” program allows the city to review an energy company’s application to drill by pulling together all contiguous leases, selecting a single location for multiple, horizontal wells, and releasing the rest of the land for other development.

Published 2014-12-14 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
City to outline changes to drilling rules
City leaders plan several tough amendments to the rules that govern natural gas drilling and production in the city and its extraterritorial jurisdiction by the time its moratorium on new permits expires in January. During meetings scheduled Monday and Tuesday, the public can learn more and give feedback on those amendments, which should push operators into limiting their claims to large swaths of land on Denton’s west side.

Published 2014-12-10 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Drilling rules to be reworked
Denton City Council members have said little publicly about the latest rewrites to rules for natural gas development since adopting a moratorium on new permits earlier this year. During the council’s work session Tuesday afternoon, City Attorney Anita Burgess called the latest drafts “complicated.” But neither the staff nor the council offered much more on what’s coming before taking their discussion over natural gas development into closed session.

Published 2014-12-6 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Study of fertility risks sought
Researchers reviewed a number of recent studies of hydraulic fracturing against what is known about reproductive health and found increased risk to both men’s and women’s fertility, fetal development and to the incidence of birth defects. A group of doctors and scientists from the University of Missouri, the University at Albany-State University of New York, and the Center for Environmental Health in Oakland, California, published their literature review Friday in the quarterly scientific journal Reviews of Environmental Health.

Published 2014-12-5 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Groups file to join city in court
Local activists and a national advocacy group filed motions in court Thursday to join the city of Denton in defending its ban on hydraulic fracturing. Attorneys for the Denton Drilling Advisory Group and Earthworks prepared petitions in intervention for lawsuits filed by the state and the oil and gas industry, which are challenging the ban’s constitutionality.

Published 2014-12-1 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
City answers fracking ban
The city of Denton has answered lawsuits from the state and from the oil and gas industry challenging its ban on hydraulic fracturing, calling the process a public nuisance and one that subverts public order. The city also asked for a change of venue in the state’s case against the ban.

Published 2014-11-7 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Further fallout follows ban
Fallout continued at the state level over the landslide vote Tuesday that banned hydraulic fracturing in Denton city limits. During a media event sponsored by the Texas Tribune on Thursday morning in Austin, Christi Craddick, chairwoman of the Texas Railroad Commission, called the vote a disappointment.

Published 2014-11-6 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Lawsuits follow fracking outcome
Both the Texas General Land Office and the Texas Oil and Gas Association sued the city of Denton on Wednesday in two separate actions that challenge the city’s new ordinance banning hydraulic fracturing.

Published 2014-11-5 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Fracking banned
Denton became the first Texas city to ban hydraulic fracturing Tuesday after a citizen-driven proposition cruised to a landslide victory at the polls. Final returns showed the fracking ban passing by a whopping 59-41 percent margin all night long. While dozens of cities in New York and elsewhere have banned fracking, Texas is oil and gas country. So Denton’s proposition over the rights of a Texas city to police what happens within its borders pushed it into the national spotlight.

Published 2014-10-29 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
TWU shies from frack involvement
Texas Woman’s University officials distanced themselves Wednesday from a paid political advertisement sent to Denton voters about the proposal to ban hydraulic fracturing in the city.

Attorney who sued city disbarred
The State Bar of Texas has disbarred the attorney who filed a mineral takings lawsuit against the city.

Published 2014-10-27 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Ban’s foes far outspend proponents
The record books will likely stay inked for a while: A proposal to ban hydraulic fracturing in the city has spurred more than $772,000 in political donations, the most expensive campaign in Denton’s history. And there’s still one week to go.

Published 2014-10-17 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Frack check
Mailers, fliers and door hangers about the proposition to ban hydraulic fracturing in the city limits have papered Denton homes in recent weeks. The materials contain many claims about the proposition and what it could mean for the city. The following is an examination of some of those claims:

Published 2014-10-16 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Hot under the collar
Residents have complained about a full-page color ad on the back page of Wednesday’s Denton Record-Chronicle, saying they did not give permission for their names to be used in a political ad.

Published 2014-10-12 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Forum on fracking draws crowd
About 100 people filled the tables and bar stools at Dan’s Silverleaf on Saturday afternoon to get help sorting through the facts and the rhetoric surrounding the proposed ban on hydraulic fracturing.

Published 2014-10-7 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Fracking debate draws cash
The first round of campaign finance reports show the proposition against hydraulic fracturing inside the city is already the most expensive campaign in Denton’s history, with both sides vying for the right to call themselves “grass roots.”

Published 2014-9-29 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Mineral royalty owner sues city
A Denton-area lawyer has sued the city over mineral takings, claiming that the city’s many moratoriums on new permits have effectively served as a ban on natural gas drilling.

Publish 2014-9-19 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Pressure building
One City Council member has dubbed it a universal failure. Perhaps the biggest showdown on Denton’s November ballot — a proposed ban on hydraulic fracturing in the city limits — came after a culmination of failures by past city leaders, state legislators and regulators, housing developers, the oil and gas industry, and home buyers themselves.

Publish 2014-9-6 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Registration drives enliven voting pool
Of the 3,900 people who have registered to vote in Denton County in the past six weeks, nearly 1,000 of those new voters registered in the city of Denton. Two citizen initiatives, one to ban hydraulic fracturing and another to legalize liquor sales citywide, are on the ballot.

Published 2014-9-5 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Chamber: Vote no to frack ban
The Denton Chamber of Commerce has formally recommended that its employees and members vote against a proposed ban on hydraulic fracturing that will appear on the city’s Nov. 4 general election ballot.

Published 2014-8-27 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Driller gets waiver for well
A Colorado energy company claimed the city of Denton’s moratorium on new gas wells has caused it hardship and received a waiver this week to drill five gas wells on land owned by a former Dallas Cowboy.

Published 2014-7-30 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chornicle
Flower Mound cancer rates up
Breast cancer rates in Flower Mound are 22 percent higher than expected, according to a new report from the Texas Department of State Health Services released Wednesday.

Published 2014-7-17 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Land commissioner weighs in on ban
Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson believes Denton’s proposed ban on hydraulic fracturing would cost the children of Texas. Patterson wrote a letter to Mayor Chris Watts objecting to the ban prior to Tuesday’s public hearing. But the mayor’s office didn’t receive the letter until late Thursday afternoon, after news of the letter was reported through media outlets.

Published 2014-7-16 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Voters to decide ban issue
Residents will be heading to the polls in November to decide the fate of a proposed ban on hydraulic fracturing in the Denton city limits.

Published 2014-7-12 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Issue may pack City Hall
Denton has become ground zero in Texas in the fight over hydraulic fracturing.
A local and long-simmering fight over the effects of fracking on Denton neighborhoods is morphing into a statewide battleground over a city’s right to police what happens within its boundaries. The city staff is preparing for a large crowd when the Denton City Council takes up a proposed ban on hydraulic fracturing during its regular meeting Tuesday night, including requiring speakers to register in advance.

Published 2014-7-3 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Petition seeks fracking support
Another petition is circulating in Denton, this time to support hydraulic fracturing. 

Published 2014-6-30 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Cities eye New York fracking ruling
The top court in the state of New York affirmed the rights of cities to ban hydraulic fracturing, in a much-watched case nationwide.

Published 2014-6-21 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Fracking foes turn to cities
Anti-fracking forces across the country have tapped into local governments to get them to tap the brakes on fracking, a technological advance that allows energy companies to extract oil and gas from deep rock formations by pressure-pumping them with sand, water and chemicals. Some states allow communities to regulate the energy industry, but some do not, according to Deborah Goldberg, a New York attorney with Earthjustice, a national nonprofit known for using the court system to protect the environment and people’s health. Municipal attorneys are watching cases in Denton, New York and elsewhere. 

Published 2014-5-27 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Fracking petition validated
A petition to force a vote on whether to ban hydraulic fracturing in the Denton city limits has been validated, meaning the City Council must either approve a ban or let voters decide the issue.

Published 2014-5-7 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Residents present petition to city
Volunteers delivered 1,936 signatures to City Hall on Wednesday afternoon — or about 81 percent of the turnout in the last municipal election — on a petition to force a vote on whether to ban hydraulic fracturing inside the Denton city limits. The delivery came just hours after the Denton City Council voted Tuesday night to put another moratorium in place on new applications for gas well permits or amendments to current permit.

Published 2014-2-21 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Crowd lines up to sign petition
Residents streamed into one of the party rooms Thursday night at Sweetwater Grill and Tavern, lining up to buy T-shirts, make donations and sign a petition to ban hydraulic fracturing in the city limits. Organizers said they got about 200 signatures, or one-third of what they need to force an initiative in front of the Denton City Council.

Published 2014-2-20 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Petition may require more signatures
A citizens initiative to ban hydraulic fracturing in the city of Denton may require more signatures than organizers believed, according to Denton city staff.

Published 2014-2-19 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Group’s drive raises concerns
Some Denton City Council members see a likely collision between state law and a citizens initiative to ban hydraulic fracturing inside the city.

Published 2014-2-18 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Group seeks ban on fracking
A newly formed group of residents seeking a ban on hydraulic fracturing will begin collecting signatures this week on a petition to force a ballot initiative in Denton. If they are successful, Denton could become the first Texas city with a ban on fracking and the first city in the nation to ban fracking after permits have already been granted, according to the Denton Drilling Awareness Group.

Published 2013-12-17 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
City Council grants zoning change
Homes in a new neighborhood proposed along Ryan Road could be as close to gas wells as others along Vintage Boulevard and Bonnie Brae Street after the City Council reconsidered its vote and allowed homes as close as 250 feet under certain conditions.

Published 2013-11-22 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Council reaches deal with company
The Denton City Council ceded some territory in its battle with EagleRidge Energy on Friday night in exchange for a “standstill agreement.” In a rare split vote, the council approved the agreement 5-2 in a special session to allow EagleRidge to continue working 12 wells on pad sites between South Bonnie Brae Street and U.S. Highway 377 as the city and the company continue talks for the next two months.

Published 2013-11-19 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Fracking dispute erupts at City Hall
Angry residents filled the seats and lined the walls at City Hall on Tuesday night, calling again for a drilling moratorium and for EagleRidge Energy’s old permit to be revoked.

Published 2013-11-16 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
State predicts air will improve
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has predicted a dramatic drop in North Texas ozone levels over the next three years, according to a preliminary model of air quality from now through 2018But will it happen? The agency doesn’t have a good track record with predictions.

Published 2013-11-3 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Local ozone readings reach high average
The North Texas ozone season ended Thursday with readings at Denton Enterprise Airport reaching an average as high as those in Houston. The North Texas Clean Air Steering Committee is scheduled to meet Tuesday morning in Arlington to hear presentations on the problem and discuss strategies to address it.

Published 2013-10-26 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Denton pulls suit, weighs options
Less than a week after filing suit against EagleRidge Energy, the city of Denton withdrew its petition to shut down some of the company’s operations near the intersection of Bonnie Brae Street and Vintage Boulevard.

Published 2013-10-21 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
City of Denton sues over wells
The city of Denton filed suit Friday against EagleRidge Operating LLC and EagleRidge Energy LLC, claiming that two wells they are drilling near Bonnie Brae Street and Vintage Boulevard violate city ordinances.

Published 2013-9-7 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Tougher target
Every day for more than a week now has been an “ozone action day.” Denton’s ozone monitor, once it was back online Aug. 30, quickly racked up some of the highest readings in the state, suggesting that progress in improving the region’s air quality has stalled. Regional officials are poised to put idling limits on oilfield trucks. 

Published 2013-7-27 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Few answers in April gas well blowout
After three months of reflection and several government reports, key questions remain unanswered following a gas well blowout on April 19 near homes, businesses and Denton Enterprise Airport, including why it took hours for anyone to call either 911 or state regulators. City records show, in fact, that it was a city fire inspector who first alerted 911 dispatchers to the emergency.

Published 2013-1-13 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
City approves drilling ordinance
Residents say they are deflated and disappointed after the Denton City Council finally approved, in a 5-1 vote, new rules for natural gas drilling and production that have been years in the making. The council made several amendments to the ordinance from the dais Tuesday night, ostensibly to address some residents’ lingering concerns about weakness in the final draft — the city’s fifth since October. Those amendments addressed some issues with compression stations, setbacks, insurance liability limits and air and water quality monitoring.

Published 2012-12-6 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
City gas rules topic of concern
Frustrated residents brought another hour of earnest testimony to a public hearing on the gas ordinance rewrites this week.

Published 2012-12-2 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Guidance on gas rules costs city
Since 2011, Denton has spent more than $43,000 on consultants in reviewing the city’s natural gas ordinance, with the potential for thousands more to be spent before the work is done.

Published 2012-11-14 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
City continues to hash out gas code
Several Denton City Council members continued to push on the city staff for information and changes to the rewrites of the city’s natural gas development rules, even as the effort goes to Planning and Zoning tonight.

Published 2012-10-23 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Residents address drilling task force
Public reaction to Denton’s ever-evolving rules for natural gas drilling and production ran the gamut Monday night – from long lists of additional requests to accusations of racism.

Published 2012-10-21 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Latest gas rule rewrites released
The city released another draft of its natural gas ordinance after the close of business Friday, in response to comments it has received so far on the first rewrite of new rules for shale gas drilling and production.

Published 2012-10-3 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Gas drilling revisions made public
City officials Tuesday made public the revisions to the city’s gas drilling ordinance.

Published 2012-10-2 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Revised gas ordinance to be online
If Denton’s revised ordinance for natural gas drilling and production was a debut painting, the black cloth covering it was never removed Monday night.

Published 2012-9-29 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Group to debut draft of drilling rules
The first draft of new rules for natural gas drilling and production in Denton will be unveiled with the city’s gas well task force Monday evening.

Published 2012-9-25 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Analysis finds faults in drilling oversight
States with the heaviest oil and gas development in the shale drilling boom are doing a poor job enforcing rules meant to protect public health and safety, according to a new analysis by Earthworks.

Published 2012-9-11 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Council extends drilling moratorium
The City Council approved a 75-day extension of the moratorium Tuesday night, to Dec. 18, by passing an ordinance that clarifies the council’s intention to not interfere with vested property rights.

Published 2012-9-10 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Well applications expected to move ahead
A shale gas company’s applications to drill four wells on the city’s west side are likely to move forward, despite Denton’s moratorium on new natural gas development. During its meeting tonight, the City Council is expected to extend the moratorium to December, but at the same time consider new language for applications filed before the moratorium took effect.

Published 2012-9-3 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Company seeks gas well variances
EagleRidge Energy and EagleRidge Operating applied July 20 for variances for four gas well pad sites in northwestern Denton. The city will have a public hearing on the request during its regular meeting Sept. 11.Despite asserting that its applications weren’t subject to the moratorium, EagleRidge was also applying for the variance because the moratorium had been going “for almost five months, with no end in sight.”

Published 2012-4-26 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Report critical of gas well task force
A minority report from members of Denton’s official gas well task force says the task force was too small, did not represent residents, did not fully vet their concerns on natural gas production and, unlike similar committees in other cities, did not hear expert presentations or make site visits.

Published 2012-3-17 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Task force advances site-improvement items
Members of the Denton’s gas drilling task force moved on a few items that could improve site conditions around natural gas wells and production facilities, although the group declined to advance all the items that could make both old wells and new ones look better.

Published 2012-3-7 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Task force votes on sound checks
Denton’s official gas drilling task force made scant progress this week with new recommendations to reduce noise created by natural gas drilling and production facilities.

Published 2012-2-12 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe and Lowell Brown, Denton Record-Chronicle
Stuck in the middle
Researchers have found a disparity in the proximity of gas wells to elementary schools in certain Barnett Shale neighborhoods, suggesting that, if there is a health or social cost to bear, some communities could be more affected than others. The research is among the first studies to come out of a new spatial database being built and used by the Department of Geography at the University of North Texas.

Published 2012-1-8 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe and Lowell Brown, Denton Record-Chronicle
Into hostile territory
Tammi Vajda was not surprised at the news that some of the shale gas companies had promoted military-style psychological operations in communities where they worked. She and other Barnett Shale area residents have seen the tactics that blur the line between information and influence in local governance.

Published 2011-12-31 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe and Lowell Brown, Denton Record-Chronicle
Lowering the boom
Battle lines between industry and local communities hardened in 2011 over where and how to drill for shale gas, not just in area cities but across the world. The drilling boom that began on the Denton-Wise County line is spreading to shale formations in more than 30 other states and many foreign countries, even as rig counts and natural gas prices continued to drop in a glutted market.

Published 2011-11-4, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Ponder residents learn of upgrades Companies apologize, announce equipment additions, fixes to plant
Residents learned during a town hall-style meeting Thursday night that the operators of a gas plant have made repairs and installed new equipment – done so in response to more than a year’s worth of complaints about odors emanating from the facility.

Published 2011-10-30, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Burden grows for county taxpayers
Property tax bills began arriving in mailboxes this week, and if you think your bill is higher than ever, you may be right. … Exponential growth in county property values and mineral valuations offered no relief. … the county has seen a 53 percent increase in the number of wells in the past six years, but a 28 percent decrease in overall value.

Published 2011-9-30, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Industry chapped over EPA proposal
Representatives of the oil and gas industry told the Environmental Protection Agency in a special hearing Thursday that new rules proposed to protect air quality were too much, too fast. The theme echoed differently for residents, who said too many wells came into their communities too fast, and the new rules meant to protect human health and the environment couldn’t come quickly enough.

Published 2011-9-10, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Ponder adopts drilling rules
The Town Council has adopted new rules for natural gas development, increasing setbacks from neighborhoods, protecting platted property and adding public notification requirements. The council moved swiftly to adopt the new ordinance, having declined to impose a moratorium on new permits requested earlier this summer by residents of Remington Park, the town’s largest neighborhood.

Published 2011-8-31, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Breast cancer rate climbs up
Invasive breast cancer is on the rise in Denton County and five neighboring counties, even as the incidence rate for the disease is lower in the state and falling across the rest of the nation. According to a 2011 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, six counties in the western Dallas-Fort Worth area have the highest rates of invasive breast cancer in Texas.

Published 2011-7-31, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Town officials have stake in Devon Energy
Some Town Council members did not declare financial ties to Devon Energy before denying a drilling moratorium, a move criticized by Remington Park residents who said the moratorium would have provided them relief. Devon Energy is currently drilling two gas wells in Remington Park, the town’s largest neighborhood. Company representatives have said that Devon plans, but has not yet sought permits for, two more wells at the same controversial pad site. A moratorium would have complicated the company’s production plans.

Published 2011-7-17, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Town called on to provide records
Town officials are being scrutinized for failing to respond to an open records request about a new gas well site in the Remington Park subdivision. Meanwhile, the Town Council has scheduled a vote Tuesday on a moratorium for new drilling permits, a week after a public hearing on the issue.

Published 2011-7-10, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Region burns through ozone limits
It wasn’t much of a race. Before the dog days of summer arrived, air monitors in Denton and northern Tarrant counties had already racked up records of excessive ozone. The Keller monitor logged its fourth day above a federal limit on Wednesday. Denton’s monitor logged its fourth on Thursday. It’s been five years since ozone violations occurred so quickly in the Dallas-Fort Worth region.

Published 2011-6-30 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Ponder residents, developer upset over well permit
Both the developer and residents of the Remington Park subdivision say town staff should not have issued drilling permits for a new gas well site without Town Council approval. But the town’s new mayor says the staff acted properly and followed the applicable ordinance.

Published 2011-6-12 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Denton County included in national study by EPA
The Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday it will examine water wells in Denton and Wise counties as part of a nationwide study of the effects of hydraulic fracturing on aquifers.

Published 2011-6-12 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Ponder drilling site too close for residents’ comfort
Residents in Remington Park believed that when they bought into the town’s newest subdivision five years ago, there would be a park behind them. Instead, Devon Energy will drill for gas.

Published 2011-6-12 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Air quality plan to emerge from haze
State regulators are reworking a statewide plan to improve air quality, but Denton County is unlikely to see relief anytime soon. The year’s first air quality violation is already on the books. The highest concentration of ozone in the Dallas-Fort Worth area occurred in Denton on June 6.

Published 2011-6-5 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Session yields mixed results
Natural gas drillers will have to disclose most of the chemicals they use in hydraulic fracturing under a bill passed by the Texas Legislature, but many other drilling-related bills died during the regular session, including an overhaul of the state agency that regulates the industry.

Published 2011-5-26 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Dish bids farewell to Mayor Tillman
About two dozen people turned out Tuesday for the transition of power in the county’s smallest, but often influential, town. Outgoing Mayor Calvin Tillman watched as Wester Draper was sworn in as town commissioner and Bill Sciscoe as the fourth mayor of this 11-year-old town, population 201. Tillman then handed Sciscoe his gavel as residents and family members applauded.

Published 2011-5-10 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe and Lowell Brown, Denton Record-Chronicle
Fresh round of fines OK’d
State environmental regulators in Austin approved penalties Wednesday against several Denton-area companies, including a settlement against a natural gas operator believed to be the first of its kind in Denton County.

Published 2011-5-10 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Group calls for cutting industry emissions
A North Texas environmental group has launched a campaign that members hope will reduce emissions from Barnett Shale natural gas facilities. Downwinders at Risk has called on area cities, school districts and counties to pass a resolution asking that gas production companies be required to do their “fair share” in reducing emissions.

Published 2011-4-17 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe and Lowell Brown, Denton Record-Chronicle
Drilling bills queued up in committee
Area legislators have introduced more than 30 bills in the state’s 82nd regular session in relation to shale gas drilling and production. With a few exceptions, most bills are still in committee. More than 20 of the bills attempt some degree of change in the regulations – from a small change in current legislation to an overhaul of the Texas Railroad Commission.

Published 2011-4-14 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Group calls for water oversight
An activist group’s new policy report, to be released in Austin today, pulls another state agency into the fray of criticism that the state can’t keep pace with shale gas development. Through its Texas Oil & Gas Accountability Project, Earthworks has called on the Texas Water Development Board to measure the amount of groundwater being withdrawn by energy companies and detail the effects the withdrawals are having on the water supply.

Published 2011-2-24 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Well site fine to aid environment
One of the state’s first fines for air quality violations at a Barnett Shale well site will provide the first pot of money tapped for more ambient air quality monitors in the region. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality approved an agreed order Wednesday fining Aruba Petroleum $35,500 for violating air quality rules at its operations in Allison, near the Denton-Wise county line.

Published 2011-2-22 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Outspoken Dish mayor moving out
Residents here will need another bulldog come May, maybe sooner. Mayor Calvin Tillman – an outspoken advocate for this town of 201, especially when it comes to the negative effects of shale natural gas production – told residents over the weekend that he will not seek re-election.

Published 2011-2-21 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Team looks at drilling
Researchers from several disciplines at the University of North Texas and the UNT Health Science Center are building a new data set that will help identify impacts of the Barnett Shale drilling boom on the region’s population. The interdisciplinary group is merging a broad collection of data for research, including gas production information and geographical information, such as census and waterways.

Published 2010-12-20 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe and Lowell Brown, Denton Record-Chronicle
Five-year drilling saga at an end
A five-year battle over a controversial gas well site south of Denton is over. Carrizo Oil and Gas has informed the city it is no longer pursuing drilling sites near a neighborhood in Denton’s southern extraterritorial jurisdiction, bringing an apparent end to a saga that involved two energy companies, two possible drilling locations, a city-initiated lawsuit, a bankruptcy and a hearing before the state’s top oil and gas board.

Published 2010-12-9 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe and Lowell Brown, Denton Record-Chronicle
EPA action against driller a first in Texas State: Agency’s order against firm in Parker County ‘premature’
The federal crackdown this week on an energy company whose gas drilling operations were blamed for contaminating water wells in Parker County was the first of its kind for Texas.

Published 2010-12-4 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Corinth solidifies gas committee
City leaders decided to make permanent the committee that reviews its natural gas drilling and production ordinances, voting to add three more residents to the group.

Published 2010-10-31 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Pipeline report calls for safety regulations
Recommendations from a new pipeline safety report apply to many parts of the Barnett Shale region, even though they came out of a study of Fort Worth neighborhoods, experts say. The report, paid for by the Fort Worth League of Neighborhoods with a $48,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Pipeline Safety, included 26 recommendations for local, state and federal regulators.

Published 2010-10-23 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Corinth council passes drilling ordinance
Scores of residents packed the council chambers Thursday or sent e-mails to the mayor, insisting that the City Council amend a proposed, 58-page gas drilling and production ordinance with 1,000-foot setbacks for protected uses. Residents were visibly upset with a proposed variance to reduce setbacks for tanks in exchange for emissions controls. Several residents shouted their displeasure at council members as they moved into another room for a closed session during a break in the meeting.

Published 2010-10-15 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Dish meeting focuses on health complaints
More than 60 people from all around the Barnett Shale region crowded into Dish Town Hall on Wednesday night, many of whom have reported health effects from natural gas drilling and production near their homes. The meeting was organized by the Texas Oil and Gas Accountability Project, which asked the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality in December to change how it investigates odor complaints associated with natural gas drilling and production.

Published 2010-10-14 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Oklahoma quake rattles Denton
For some Denton residents, it took a moment to realize what the shaking floors, pulsing walls and vibrating decor were all about. The U.S. Geological Survey recorded a magnitude 4.3 earthquake about six miles east of Norman, Okla., at 9:06 a.m. Wednesday. Seismologist Oliver Boyd, with the U.S. Geological Survey in Memphis, said the earthquake was not near any mapped fault.

Published 2010-10-9 by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Corinth gets input on gas ordinance
Residents told the City Council on Thursday that setbacks contained in a revised ordinance for gas drilling equipment still were not large enough to protect human health and safety, as well as property values.

Published 2010-9-18, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Drilling can dig into land value
One year to the day after a company set up its drilling rigs on their land in eastern Wise County, Tim and Christine Ruggiero confirmed the depth of their loss. Originally on the 2010 tax rolls for $257,330, their home and 10-acre horse property are now worth $75,240. The Wise County Central Appraisal District Appraisal Review Board agreed that the drilling company’s use of the land warranted the extraordinary reduction.

Published 2010-9-5, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
New toxins report released
State environmental inspectors returned to Dish in mid-June after Mayor Calvin Tillman disclosed to the public that both his young sons recently woke in the night with heavy nosebleeds. Inspectors sampled the air for compounds they didn’t test for in previous visits, including formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, along with 16 other carbonyl compounds that are byproducts of combustion. Formaldehyde is not one of the toxic compounds regularly measured by permanent air monitors, such as the one installed in April at Clark Airport in Dish.

Published 2010-9-5, by Lowell Brown and Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe , Denton Record-Chronicle
Vote inspired flurry of feedback
Denton city leaders were bombarded with letters and e-mails opposing new natural gas drilling regulations in the days leading up to the July 21 vote, a Denton Record-Chronicle analysis found. The correspondence shows the extent to which residents of Robson Ranch, pushed by the developer of the south Denton retirement community, tried to lobby city leaders to exempt the development from new regulations.

Published 2010-8-24, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Plan would add air monitors in Barnett Shale
A proposal by state leaders to double the number of permanent air monitors in North Texas — with the natural gas industry picking up the tab — drew mixed reactions locally. While state regulators have not yet indicated where in the 24-county Barnett Shale region the next eight monitors would go, they have indicated that operators would pay the costs.

Published 2010-8-20, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Corinth Council approves extension
The City Council has approved an extension for a moratorium on new natural gas drilling and production permits, a top item on the gas well committee’s wish list as it tackles issues in the city’s current ordinance. The committee has also asked the city for some extra resources to accomplish its work.

Published 2010-8-14, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Help tough to find for Corinth panel
Corinth’s gas well committee has been reaching out to experts as it works through rules and regulations for the city’s gas development ordinance, but few have agreed to help for free. The special committee continued its line-by-line review of the city’s gas well ordinance this week, after posing dozens of questions to Ed Ireland of the Barnett Shale Energy Education Council.

Published 2010-8-8, By Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
County ranks third in Barnett Shale inventory
Denton County has more sources for pollution from natural gas production equipment than all but two of the 24 counties in the Barnett Shale area, according to a new state inventory. Operators reported 7,812 pieces of stationary equipment in Denton County known to emit greenhouse gases or toxic compounds. Only Tarrant County, with 8,659 pieces, and Johnson County, with 10,859, have more. In all, nearly 49,000 pieces of production equipment, all with the potential to emit toxic compounds, were reported by energy companies to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The special inventory pinpoints the location of production equipment associated with about 14,000 gas wells already drilled in the Barnett Shale. More than 3,300 new wells also are permitted.

Published 2010-7-26, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Enbridge to replace three tanks
Some equipment changes at the natural gas compression complex here could help improve air quality. Canada-based Enbridge Inc. is replacing three storage tanks with tanks that have vapor recovery.

Published 2010-7-22, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
City gas well rules change
In its first pass at addressing concerns that have emerged over natural gas drilling and production, the Denton City Council adopted a number of changes to its ordinance early Wednesday. The changes include pushing gas wells to a 1,000-foot setback from homes and other protected uses, more stringent limits on noise, higher permit fees, quicker expiration of gas plats and permits, and new screening requirements.

Published 2010-7-15, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Both sides miffed by drilling proposal
Neither representatives of the industry nor residents who packed the Denton City Council chambers Wednesday night supported the first round of changes proposed for the city’s natural gas drilling ordinance. In nearly two hours of public testimony to the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission, industry representatives decried the tenfold increase in permitting fees while residents complained that the rules would not go far enough to protect human health and safety.

Published 2010-7-14, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Dish proposes meter station rules
In a quiet, sparsely attended meeting, neither of the two residents who came asked to speak during a public hearing on the town’s proposed rules for natural gas metering stations.

Published 2010-7-9, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Meeting draws more than 600
More than 600 people filled a hotel ballroom in downtown Fort Worth in the first of four public meetings to be held nationwide on hydraulic fracturing.

Published 2010-6-30, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
New analysis highlights toxin findings
The latest health-effects analysis of Barnett Shale air by state environmental officials is the first to underscore similarities of toxic compounds inspectors continue to find at elevated levels around natural gas facilities. The analysis, written May 25 and released June 4, is the fifth such analysis released by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality since October.

Published 2010-6-5, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Corinth readies natural gas panel
Two residents have been selected for a special committee that will examine the city’s ordinances for natural gas production while the clock ticks on a moratorium on new projects inside city limits.

Published 2010-5-12, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
State: Toxins in Dish at normal level
State health officials have released the final report of a health investigation in Dish, where blood and urine samples were collected from 28 residents in January.

Published 2010-5-10, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Federal oversight promised for shale
With oil and gas extraction now a national enforcement priority, some energy companies in the Barnett Shale could soon face stiff penalties for operating outside federal rules, said Dr. Al Armendariz, Region 6 director of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Published 2010-5-1, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Corinth denies 2 well permits
After working through a core of six variance requests made by XTO Energy, and denying five of them, the Corinth City Council brought seven hours of deliberation to an abrupt end about 2:30 a.m. Friday, unanimously denying permits to drill two wells at the Lake Sharon Christian Center.

Published 2010-4-16, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Residents: No to XTO
Residents packed the council chambers and overflow facilities for the second time this month, asking the City Council to deny 11 variances requested by XTO Energy for drilling at least two natural gas wells at Lake Sharon Christian Center. Community organizer Cora Bell presented a petition with 977 signatures collected in eight days, opposing the company’s request and asking the City Council to conduct an independent environmental impact study of the drill site, to be paid for by the company.

Published 2010-4-13, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Tests find toxins in Dish residents
Tests on blood and urine samples taken from residents by state health officials in January have found the same toxic compounds in people’s bodies that have been detected in the air and water here. The results showed that exposure is occurring, according to Louisiana chemist Wilma Subra. “Clearly, it’s connecting the dots — which we didn’t want to happen,” Subra said.

Published 2010-4-10, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Corinth assesses drilling request
The mayor and City Council deluged city staff with questions during a special workshop session Thursday night as they considered XTO Energy’s request to drill at least two natural gas wells in a Lake Sharon neighborhood. The five-hour meeting ended behind closed doors, as city leaders met with the city attorney for more than 90 minutes about the energy company’s permit application.

Published 2010-4-3, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Corinth delays gas well action
The Corinth City Council voted late Thursday to postpone action on two gas well permits and a series of code variances for XTO Energy, after residents crowded City Hall to oppose the company’s plans. The decision came more than four hours after a public hearing began on the topic. Deliberations will continue at the council’s next meeting April 15.

Published 2010-3-29, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Drawn into focus
Tim Ruggiero had a lot of time to think, sitting in the secretary’s office as his father met privately with the grade school principal. He remembers shaking as he sat in that chair 30 years ago, afraid after seeing how unhappy his father was and unsure of the punishment that would come.

Published 2010-3-28, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Landowners’ fears surface
A bit of yellow tape dangled from a short wooden stake in front of Christine Ruggiero’s house on Star Shell Road that September morning, less than a year ago. The subtle signal meant something to someone. On her 20-minute drive to work, Ruggiero hoped that what she saw wouldn’t become what she feared. Aruba Petroleum had already dug up several acres of land on the neighboring 38-acre homestead, drilling a new gas well on Pat and Jim Headen’s front lawn.

Published 2010-3-4, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Methane levels get new check
An atmospheric researcher drove a specially equipped van through several Barnett Shale counties this week and found methane plumes near many natural gas facilities, with one plume in Flower Mound measuring 40 parts per million.

Published 2010-2-25, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Group calls for drilling changes
Leaders from the state and national offices of the Oil and Gas Accountability Project rolled out a platform for regulatory reform during a nationwide media conference call Wednesday.

Published 2010-2-15, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Fund decides gas use runs counter to goal
A North Texas environmental fund dedicated to paying for projects that help clean the air will no longer pay for projects that use natural gas as an alternative fuel. The Sue Pope Fund was created in 2007 with a $2.25 million settlement between a cement company and two environmental groups.

Published 2010-2-8, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Dish halts new drilling for now
After only a few minutes of discussion, town leaders declared a 90-day moratorium on issuing new drilling permits inside town limits, citing concerns about emissions from production equipment and their effect on human health. Both Commissioners William Sciscoe and Charles Smith told Mayor Calvin Tillman they were comfortable with the reasoning for the moratorium.

Published 2010-1-30, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Samples from Dish in the lab
Texas health officials are now waiting on lab results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, having selected 28 residents at random for biological sampling that could determine whether they have been exposed to toxic substances.

Published 2010-1-28, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Elevated benzene levels found
State environmental officials found elevated levels of benzene at 22 percent of natural gas facilities they sampled last year, according to a report released Wednesday.

Published 2010-1-13, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
TCEQ reports findings
The Texas environmental agency says a survey of more than 100 natural gas facilities in Fort Worth showed no cause for concern about potentially dangerous pollutants.

Published 2009-12-24, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Gas complaints jump to TCEQ’s top priority
Complaints about odors and other pollution at Barnett Shale gas facilities — be they wellheads, metering stations, compressors or other facilities — have become a top priority at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

Published 2009-12-1, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
State to test health in Dish
Officials with the Environmental and Injury Epidemiology and Toxicology Unit of the Texas Department of State Health Services will investigate health concerns related to natural gas production here, probably early next year. Health concerns were raised in October after the town of Dish commissioned an air quality study and scientists found toxins at troubling levels.

Published 2009-11-24, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
High emissions levels recorded outside Dish
State environmental inspectors found emissions at some eye-popping levels during short monitoring visits in August and October, including particularly high readings obtained at the fence line of a natural gas wellhead where an operator reportedly left production equipment open.

Published 2009-11-23, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Environmental inspectors find high emissions near Dish
State environmental inspectors found emissions at some eye-popping levels during short monitoring visits in August and October, including particularly high readings obtained at the fence line of a wellhead west of Dish where an operator reportedly left production equipment open.

Published 2009-10-13, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Dish air study brings health worries to fore
Dish resident Dawn Melton, who serves as the town’s volunteer librarian, told a crowd of mostly strangers that her headaches have gotten worse in the past couple of years.

Published 2009-10-11, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Dish air study detects pollution
For a mid-August day that Mayor Calvin Tillman said, smell-wise, “was not that bad,” a city-commissioned air quality study detected a host of volatile organic chemicals, several in concentrations greater than allowable limits.

Published 2009-10-08, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Key claims about gas drilling probed
Many claims about natural gas drilling in general, and at the Rayzor Ranch site in particular, were left unaddressed at Tuesday’s meeting. Below is a brief investigation into some of those key claims.

Published 2009-08-02, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Denton County air at quality threshold
After Beth Lutz returned to Denton from a California vacation, her eyes began itching and burning again. The constant irritation in her throat returned, too.

Published 2009-06-14, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Pass, fail or erode
State legislative session ends with final decisions made on natural gas bills. Nearly 60 pieces of legislation tied to natural gas drilling, production and distribution got some kind of hearing in either the state Senate’s Natural Resources Committee or the House’s Energy Resources Committee in the 81st legislative session.

Published 2009-05-13, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Dish agrees on study
Gas odor reports spur town to examine local environment for clues. DISH – Town leaders agreed to an environmental study of this small community during the commissioners’ regular meeting Monday night, after Mayor Calvin Tillman reported he had followed residents’ reports of natural gas odor and got positive readings on a natural gas detection unit.

Published 2009-03-12, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Barnett Shale-related jobs decline
Employment losses in the Barnett Shale energy sector have reached 40,000, a 36.3 percent reduction since last summer’s peak of 110,000 jobs in North Texas, a Texas economist said.

Published 2009-02-07, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Corinth tightens well ordinance
Weekend gas well flaring prompts city to action. City leaders moved swiftly to strengthen the city’s gas well development ordinance after a drilling company flared a new well for most of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend, angering scores of residents who lived nearby.

Published 2009-01-27, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
EPA sued over lack of oil-gas rules
Two groups say agency violates Clean Air Act by not regulating industry. North Texas residents could breathe cleaner air, depending on the outcome of a lawsuit filed against the Environmental Protection Agency this month.

Published 2009-01-18, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Argyle figures out cost of gas drilling’s toll on roads
Engineers have come up with a figure for the town to rebuild its roads so that they can handle drilling traffic: $311,520 per lane per mile.

Published 2009-01-13, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Pipelines inspire legislation
Natural gas companies and Barnett Shale cities seek help of lawmakers. Two organizations are asking state legislators to address growing concerns about gas pipeline companies this session.

NOTE: Behind the Shale is a five-part series co-written by Lowell Brown and Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe that explores urban gas drilling and one Argyle-area neighborhood’s struggle against it. It won first place in small market print from the Society of Environmental Journalism.
Published 2009-01-01, Denton Record-Chronicle
[“Behind The Shale,” Chapter 5] Neighborhood metamorphosis
Jennifer Cole stared at the letter in her hands. No matter how many times she read it, it didn’t make sense, she recalled. The letter, which appeared in her mailbox just after Thanksgiving 2007, said that a Houston company planned to conduct seismic testing so it could drill on the land behind her Argyle-area home.

Published 2008-12-31, Denton Record-Chronicle
[“Behind The Shale,” Chapter 4] Voicing the silence
For a while, Kim Couch thought her children hadn’t noticed the effect of the natural gas drilling in their neighborhood along Britt Drive. “You think they are just in their own little world, running around and carefree,” Couch said. Her view changed when television news cameras descended on their Argyle-area neighborhood after the first well was drilled three years ago.

Published 2008-12-30, Denton Record-Chronicle
[“Behind The Sahle,” Chapter 3] Culture clash
Gene and Jennifer Cole stood in the backyard of their Argyle-area home, staring up at the mountain of rocks behind their fence, and then turned to a stranger in a black pickup. “What’s the problem?” the stranger asked. It was not a simple question. For months, the Coles and their next-door neighbors, Jana and Darrin DeGrand, had fought a gas company’s plan to dig a gas well from the dirt-and-rock plateau where the stranger stood.

Published 2008-12-29, Denton Record-Chronicle
[“Behind The Shale,” Chapter 2] Perils afoot
Natural gas bubbled from the frostbitten ground around the well for several hours before the earth erupted about 1:45 a.m. on a December morning in 2005, tossing truck-sized boulders into the air.

Published 2008-12-28, Denton Record-Chronicle
[“Behind The Shale,” Chapter 1] Eminent dominance
Jennifer Cole stepped across the parched ground of a North Texas autumn, past her dirt-caked backyard swimming pool, inching closer to a roaring machine. She watched it force its way through the earth, pushing dirt from side to side in waves like an oceanOs tide. Day by day, the bulldozer was remaking the lot behind her home on Britt Drive near Argyle, changing a sloped meadow dotted with oak trees and cattle into a flat and lifeless expanse.

Published 2008-11-30, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Bills outline gas drilling restrictions
Denton County residents and others in the Barnett Shale could benefit from a push by Montgomery County residents to shore up laws enforced by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality that govern injection wells.

Published 2008-11-16, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Town seeks pay for trucks’ toll
Council to consider ways to calculate, collect for road damages from trucks. Town leaders may begin requiring agreements from energy companies to help rebuild damaged roads, after XTO sued Argyle over its ordinance meant to get the same result.

Published 2008-10-29, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Cities ask for more pull in planning of gas pipelines
Barnett Shale cities large and small have joined a mounting refrain asking the Texas Legislature for more authority in saying where natural gas transmission pipelines are built inside their corporate limits.

Published 2008-09-10, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Pipeline to link Barnett Shale
Crews continue to lay and weld pipe in Denton County this month, finishing a 3-foot diameter, 178-mile intrastate pipe line known as the Sherman Extension.

Published 2008-07-19, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Dish wants more say in gas pipelines
Town seeks other cities to join in asking Legislature for help. DISH – After last week’s Town Hall meeting ended, the sum total of traffic on the southern end of town included a boy riding his bike and Jim and Judy Caplinger taking their pickup back home, where yet another Barnett Shale gas pipeline is being installed.

Published on 2008-2-8, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Residents rattled, but by what?
The earth moved Tuesday night for many Denton-area residents, but what caused it remains a mystery.

Published on 2007-12-07, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Energy boom spurs new NCTC program
North Central Texas College has announced a new technical degree for fall 2008 to meet the need for more trained workers in the Barnett Shale energy boom.

Published on 2007-11-14, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Firms monitor selves for NORM [No. 4 in a 4-part series]
State relies on companies to manage their natural radioactive material waste. Three state agencies have their hands in its regulation in one way or another. Inspectors can make spot checks or investigate complaints.

Published on 2007-11-13, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Risks may deviate for the NORM [No. 3 in a 4-part series]
Researchers say dangers from naturally occurring radioactive material vary

Published on 2007-11-12, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Poisoning property [No. 2 in a 4-part series]
Landowners wonder what they have been unknowingly exposed to

Published on 2007-11-11, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Gas drilling’s dirty side effect[No. 1 in a 4-part series]
Radioactive material brought up from Barnett Shale during production
Includes NORM 101 and BARNETT SHALE BY THE NUMBERS
Blasted free by millions of gallons of fresh water and chemical soup sent miles below ground, some of earth’s baddest geological actors – radioactive elements capable of scarring soil and scourging human health – are slowly rising to the surface along with the Barnett Shale’s natural gas.

Published on 2007-07-23, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Era fending off injection well
Residents in the tiny Cooke County town of Era, just across the Denton County line, call it their Perry Mason moment.

Published on 2007-05-27, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Families protest injection well
This summer is probably the last that Abby and Teresa Schofield will take carefree bike rides along the quiet stretch of Florence Road in front of their house.

Published on 2007-04-02, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Permits issued despite concerns
The Texas Railroad Commission has issued permits for nearly 30 new injection wells for oil and gas waste in counties around the Barnett Shale in recent months, including a new injection well in Denton County.

Published on 2007-02-04, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Study: Competition for water may rise
County could need groundwater protection district. Water suppliers and individual Denton County residents who rely on wells may find in creasing competition for their drinking water, according to a study recently released by the Texas Water Development Board. As a result, the county may be on track for a groundwater protection district.

Published on 2006-12-14, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Devon: Growth part of future
Officials say oil wells to be lasting part of landscape. After releasing its latest economic impact study, a Devon Energy executive told local leaders to expect exponential growth in the area for the foreseeable future, as long as natural gas prices remain stable, extraction technology advances and the company can continue to access land for drilling.<

Published on 2006-12-10, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Drilling could sap water supply
Use projections don’t include industry need. Despite problems locally with water wells gone dry, hydrologists anticipate the Trinity Aquifer can remain a viable source of water for the long term, even after the Texas Water Development Board released new estimates of the area’s future groundwater use as anticipated in early January.

Published on 2006-12-06, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
County approves tougher fire code
The adoption of a new fire code Tuesday by Denton County commissioners will bring more stringent construction and safety rules to unincorporated Denton County. The enforcement of the new rules, as well as two new employees for the Den ton County fire marshal’s office, is expected to cost the county about $230,000 this fiscal year. Also provides for two gas well inspectors.

Published on 2006-12-03, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Water officials warn of area’s dry future
The problem descended on North Texas in several different ways – ever-increasing consumption, exponential growth, out-of-nowhere demand for gas well “fracing” and, of course, the worst drought in at least a half-century. But the solution to the area’s failing water wells and low lake levels needs more than lip service to conservation, according to some water officials.

Published on 2006-10-08, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Pipeline locations hit or miss in area
As if tracing out a colossal connect-the-dots game, miles of high-pressure pipelines link more than 2,000 gas wells along Denton County roads and under prairies and pastures, pushing the gas mined from the Barnett Shale toward scrubbers or refineries and on to market.

Published on 2006-09-14, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
New rigs safer, quieter, cleaner

Published on 2006-09-01, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
DISH forced to refigure its budget
A miscalculation on what property in the town of DISH was worth last year has led the county tax officials to refigure the town’s estimated tax revenue, and has forced the town’s mayor to rework next year’s budget.

Published on 2006-07-28, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Changes set Argyle up for gas boomlet
With a temporary drilling moratorium lifted Tuesday night and well setbacks relaxed, more gas drilling rigs will soon rise above the hills and trees of Argyle.

Published on 2006-07-23, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Drilling laws rely on enforcement
Area cities are learning that their gas drilling ordinances are bringing higher accountability for the gas drilling companies wanting to drill and make a profit in their area. They are also learning the key lies in their ability to enforce their own rules, because the nearest field office for the Texas Railroad Commission, the state agency responsible for monitoring gas well drilling, is in Wichita Falls.

Published on 2006-06-30, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Drilling moratorium continues in Argyle
The Argyle Town Council took no action on either its new or old gas drilling ordinances during a special meeting Wednesday night, so a temporary drilling moratorium will continue at least into July.

Published on 2006-06-10, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Argyle considers drilling ordinance
The Argyle Town Council is expected to take its first pass at a gas-collection pipeline ordinance during its regular meeting Tuesday. The town is currently about a month into a 90-day moratorium on gas drilling as it considers this component of the industry’s push into the eastern portions of the county.

Published on 2006-05-28, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Cars not only culprit for smog
Bright, blue skies are turning hazy for the summer, and no one knows yet whether last year’s spike of unhealthy ozone days will subside.

Published on 2006-05-13, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Lake Dallas sets drilling rules
The Lake Dallas City Council created an oil- and gas-drilling ordinance Thursday, mindful of two recent blowouts at other Barnett Shale drilling sites.

Published on 2006-04-30, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Accident prompts review of ordinancesAfter a recent blowout in a Forest Hill gas-drilling rig killed one worker and forced the evacuation of more than 500 people from the neighborhood around it, Corinth Mayor Vic Burgess said he’d like to take a second look at his city’s ordinances.

Published on 2006-04-30, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Well-drilling rigs vs. communities
Cities, towns rewriting ordinances so wells, residents can co-exist. Most of Denton County’s 1,800 gas wells drilled in the past five years reach deep below quiet farm and pasture land in the western third – and least populous – areas of the county.

Published on 2006-04-16, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Leak concern prompts state probe
State environmental officials are investigating a possible contamination of land near a gas well site about five miles west of Krum on FM1173.

Published on 2006-02-18, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Town to allow first gas drilling inside its limits
The eastward march of gas-drilling derricks advanced into new territory Thursday when the Corinth City Council approved its first application to drill inside the city limits.

Published on 2006-01-22, by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle
Drilling waste dumped in culvert
James Price says he can’t remember the first day he noticed that the old trees along FM407 were dying.