THE FIGHT TO PROTECT OUR WATER, AIR, & PUBLIC SAFETY CONTINUES………
The political circus that took place at the January 26, 2011 TCEQ hearing was unquestionably a blatant disregard for the public health and safety of Texas residents. Two of the three TCEQ Commissioners failed to abide by the guiding principles which the TCEQ is expected to uphold when they voted to approve the TexCom Gulf Disposal commercial waste injection well permits in spite of the following factors:
In his published statement immediately following TCEQ’s approval of the permits, Representative Brandon Creighton clearly conveyed his position and that of all elected officials and citizens of the area: “TCEQ had ample scientific, legal and political justification to deny this well permit, but instead chose to advance business interests over the public. I am disgusted with the outcome of this exhaustive process. This effort is not over as far as I am concerned.” We agree wholeheartedly with Representative Creighton’s comments and assure you that we are NOT giving up the fight. To that end, the following actions are in the works:
Motions for Rehearing
Montgomery County Attorney, David Walker, filed a motion for rehearing with the TCEQ on behalf of Montgomery County and the City of Conroe, as did counsels representing the Individuals Protestants (Citizens Residents Oppose Wells) and Denbury Onshore, the current owner of the Conroe field. While the motions for rehearing are a necessary step in the process, it is no surprise that TCEQ has denied these requests.
State District Court Appeal
In May 2011, Montgomery County, the City of Conroe, the Individual Protestants, Denbury Onshore and Sabine Royalty Trust filed individual suits against the TCEQ in the 250th State District court seeking reversal of the TCEQ’s approval of commercial waste injection well permits issued to TexCom Gulf Disposal in February 2011. At an August 2011 hearing regarding our appeal before the Travis County State District Court, Judge John K. Dietz announced that he will preside over the disposal well lawsuit. In addition, the state Attorney General's Office agreed to the consolidation of the individual lawsuits filed by each of the aforementioned parties into one appeal. At that time, it was anticipated that the case could be under review by Judge Dietz by June 2012. However, in mid December 2011, Judge Dietz denied two requests by the TCEQ and TexCom to have Sabine Royalty Trust (owner of the mineral interests of the Conroe oil field) dismissed from the case. In response, TCEQ and TexCom filed an appeal in the Third Court of Appeals requesting reversal of Judge Dietz's ruling regarding the dismissal of Sabine Royalty Trust from the lawsuit pending in the District Court. Attorneys representing both sides of the case will deliver oral arguments regarding the admissibility of Sabine Royalty Trust before the Third Court of Appeals on November 28, 2012 in Austin, TX. It is anticipated that once the Third Court of Appeals rules on the Sabine Royalty Trust issue, the litigation pending in Travis County District Court will proceed. .
Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT)
TCEQ's approval of the injection well permits was conditioned upon TexCom securing a driveway permit from TxDOT authorizing the relocation of the truck access driveway to the injection well site from its current location on Creighton Rd to FM 3083. In an attempt to satisfy that requirement, TexCom filed an application with TxDOT to build a driveway on FM 3083. However, on October 6, 2011, TxDOT notified TexCom that their driveway permit application had been denied as it "did not meet minimum spacing requirements". TexCom subsequently filed an appeal with TxDot requesting a variance to negate TxDOT’s spacing requirements. Before the variance was reviewed by TxDOT, Representative Brandon Creighton appeared before Montgomery County Commissioner’s Court regarding a statute within the Texas Administrative Code that offered a potential opportunity for Montgomery County to assume local control of the access permitting process for state highways within its jurisdiction. With Commissioner’s Court approval to proceed, the Montgomery County Attorney’s office filed for and was granted temporary road access control in January 2012 and TexCom subsequently withdrew its variance request.
In April 2012, however, a parcel of land with frontage along FM 3083 and which adjoins the TexCom property at the rear of the site, was sold to an Oklahoma businessman who purportedly has ties to TexCom. While a permit authorizing the modification of the driveway to this adjoining site was issued, the County Attorney's office advises that the permit that was issued limits use of the driveway "for private use on undeveloped land". Any change in use to accommodate commercial use of the site or commercial truck traffic to the site will require submission and approval of a different permit.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Involvement……..
Throughout the contested case and TCEQ hearings, the EPA has closely followed the case and provided pertinent technical information to the TCEQ outlining the risks of contamination of the area aquifers. After the permits were approved, they again contacted the TCEQ restating their concerns regarding the potential for waste migration into the aquifer which ultimately could contaminate the drinking water supply. We continue to follow with the EPA to determine if they can intervene in any way to overturn the permit approvals. To date we are not aware if any further action has been initiated, but will continue to follow up with the EPA for further updates.
How Can You Help??????
In order to keep up the fight to STOP THE TOXIC WELLS, our citizens’ group continues to incur expenses for legal representation and publicity of our opposition efforts. As an all-volunteer non-profit organization with no funding source to cover these expenses, we rely solely on individual donations and fund raising events to pay these expenses. If you are concerned about the danger this operation will pose to our drinking water supply and the impact it will have on the health, safety and economy of all 54 counties that rely on the Gulf Coast Aquifer, please consider making a donation to help us continue this fight. Every $5, $10 or whatever amount you can afford is greatly appreciated. You can contribute online by clicking on the “Donate” button on the left side of this screen, or mail a check made payable to CROW (Citizens Residents Oppose Wells) to the following address:
16015 Creighton Rd
Conroe, TX 77302
Get Involved and Stay Informed!!!!!!!
If you haven’t done so already, please JOIN OUR EMAIL LIST (click on the link in the left hand column) and attend our Town Hall meetings which are posted on the “Important Dates” page and the “Upcoming Events & Meetings” column of the website. Community involvement is critical to keep this opposition effort going.