Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Another gas drilling study...

Another failure.

We received the following email from a Fort Worth resident. 

Well...if you can't trust a corrupt city council...who can you trust?

Citizens and City Council of Fort Worth, Texas

Air quality testing - Pre-Council Item 11/9/10

68% of the Sites tested have fugitive emissions. This is an unacceptable crisis in Fort Worth. The citizens have been mis-led by our city government, the state government and the gas drilling industry every step of the way.

On Thursday, November 4, 2010 there was a meeting held between the City of Fort Worth and their Air Quality Committee. The Air Quality Committee was formed to select a company to test the air quality in Fort Worth, Texas, as a result of the proliferation of gas drilling operations in the City and numerous complaints by citizens.

The purpose of this meeting was to inform the Air Quality Committee that the company they helped select to study the Air Quality in Fort Worth had only partially completed the air study. The City learned a short time ago, that ERG, the company that was hired to test air emissions, was going to complete testing and study of only 50% of the natural gas operations in Fort Worth and not the 75% that was agreed on, and for which a contract had been signed in the amount of $650,000.

The City Staff has known about this for several weeks, but only recently has the information been available to the public and the Air Quality Committee.

The City Staff recommendation is to accept this breech of contract, as in their opinion; it would provide enough information to make decisions. However, their opinion is not based on any facts or experience.

There was no other opinions or facts from outside experts sought or previous history to support that decision.

The previous City Environmental director, who now works for Chesapeake Energy, had told the Air Quality Committee the contract was a good contract and all of the testing would be done for the contract price. The company, ERG had also told the Air Quality Committee they could actually do 100% of the sites for the contract amount. The City Staff negotiated and settled for the 75% testing.

The Company, now claims there has been much more work needed to properly monitor and test the gas drilling operations. There bid was apparently based on information of previous tests from TCEQ, and probably the gas drilling companies along with information provided by the City that indicated emissions would be expected to be found at about 25 to 30% of the sites. After their testing began, much to their surprise, the emissions from natural gas operations turned out to be almost 70% and not 25 or 30 percent.

The City Staff recommendation is still to end the contract at 50% of the sites being tested and pay the $650,000 for the information. In my opinion this is a foolish option.

Think of it as penny wise, and pound-foolish.

The Company has stated that for less than an additional $110,000 they would complete the assignment and provide the results of the original 75% of the gas drilling operations.

The original contract negotiations were made without the input of the Air Quality Committee and were much different than what they understood. I wasn't there and I don't know what happened, but a thorough accurate study needs to be completed and not just a make do, or that’s good enough.

Assuming the 75% study will actually provide good information, it seems obvious that to pay the additional $110,000 for a test that results in 25% more of the sites being tested is a bargain.

One way, the $650,000 is spent and only 50% of the random sites are tested and not the 75%. That is a loss of 1 out every 3 sites being tested.

The alternative proposal is to pay an additional $110,000 and get 75% of the sites tested as was agreed on. That equates to an additional cost of about 12% over the current $650,00, but what you receive is 50% more well sites being tested. That would be 50% + 25% more, equals 75%. That is a lot of information.

There should be some negotiation that takes place about the amount perhaps. This can be a big bragging-rights for ERG in their future or it can be a bad mark.

The City owes its voters an explanation as to why the Air Quality Committee and citizens were shut out of the negotiation information and process. The City obviously did a bad job of communicating. As a matter of fact, the citizens have been mostly shut out of the entire process.

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