Saturday, March 03, 2007

Water: State & National Legislators Pay Attention


Please continue to write, call, and fax members of the Natural Resources Committee because our efforts are working.

It is reported that Senator Criag Estes (R) who is Vice Chair of the Natural Resources Committee is feeling the heat from the fire we are lighting under him:
A bill is being drafted to require businesses that are exempt from Groundwater Conservation District rules, including oil and gas, agriculture and livestock, to report their water usage, according to Toby Baker, Clerk for Senate Subcommittee on Agriculture and Natural Resources. This would be the first step toward removing the exemption if statistics prove necessary during a future legislative session.

Since Senator Estes, earned a grade of F on his Legislative Report Card because most of his campaign contributions came from big corporations, especially Big Oil, this is not the time to let up pressure.

If you have already written, then please call and, after that, send a fax. Write all of the committee members. You can send all the letters in the same envelope to the committee clerk, Teddy Carter, and he will be sure that each member gets their letter. Your letters do make a difference but since this is a numbers game we need ALL of you and your friends and relatives to send letters.

Make your letters outweigh the campaign contributions from Big Oil. Help Senator Estes remember that a thousand dollar bill does not have a voter registration card.



Edwards Co-Authors Bill To Help Recycle Water in Barnett Shale Operations

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Rep. Chet Edwards announced that he has co-authored a bill, H.R.902, The More Water and More Energy Act, that will spur research and development of ways that water from natural gas and oil production could be used for agricultural purposes and to reduce water costs for business. “Finding ways to filter and reuse water used in drilling of natural gas wells will help preserve long term water supply for North Central Texas families and businesses while allowing natural gas operations to continue,” said Rep. Edwards, the second ranking Democrat on the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee.

H.R. 902 directs the Interior Secretary to carry out a study to identify the obstacles to increasing the ways in which produced water can be used. It authorizes $5 million in federal grants to assist in developing four pilot plants to demonstrate the feasibility, effectiveness and safety of processes in which produced water can be recovered and made suitable for use. Edwards worked with the author of the bill, U.S. Rep. Mark Udall of Colorado, to add language to include Texas specifically so that industry working in the Barnett Shale could apply for the grants. As a result, one of the pilot plants would be built in Texas, another in Colorado, one would be in Arizona or Nevada and the other would be built in California.

“Natural gas production has been an economic boon for many areas in North Central Texas, including Johnson County,” said Johnson County Commissioner RC McFall. “At the same time, our water supply is precious and we have to look for new ways to conserve water in order to support our growing population. I have spoken personally with Congressman Edwards about this issue, and I thank him for taking a leadership role in looking for ways to protect the water supply for families in this area.”

Officials from the oil and gas industry support Edwards’ bill. Bill Whitsitt of the Domestic Petroleum Council, a national trade association representing 24 of the largest United States independent natural gas and crude oil exploration and production companies, supports the bill and said, “Beneficial use of water in these environments should be a win-win for the energy industry and water consumers, but the costs of water treatment and inconsistent water quality regulations among states make that process extremely difficult. The ability to carry out meaningful projects with real potential benefits will be crucial.”

Produced water is the water generated during oil and gas production. The U.S. generates over five million gallons of produced water per day. While this water can be and is used for agricultural purposes, most often it is handled as a waste and reinjected. Given the increasing demand for fresh water supplies in the Barnett Shale and throughout Texas and the American West, Edwards said it makes sense to consider how recycled water could supplement our water resources.

“Conserving our water resources and reducing demand on the water supply will prove vital in the years ahead, as population growth increases demand for available water resources,” said Edwards. “By being good stewards of our water supply, we will not only help protect the availability of fresh water for families in North Central Texas, we can reduce water costs for businesses, save Texas taxpayers millions of dollars and encourage economic growth in our area.”

Edwards represents District 17 and is a senior member of the Appropriations Committee.

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