Posts Tagged ‘Soil Science’

The Texas Board of Professional Geoscientists at their last Board meeting decided to extend the time period for public comments on their four-year rule review.  In addition they decided to hold open public meetings in several different localities.  The TBPG has just released the schedule for the public hearings.  Below is the list of dates and locations for these meetings.  More details will be provided as they are made available.

Public Hearing – Midland – September 5, 2014
Public Hearing – Fort Worth – September 8, 2014
Public Hearing – Houston – September 10, 2014
Public Hearing – Corpus Christi – September 12, 2014
Board Meeting/Public Hearing – Austin – September 19, 2014

If there are comments please submit them both to the TBPG and to TAPG (TAPGONLINE@Gmail.com). If you have a question regarding a change please also feel free to ask the TBPG and TAPG. I will do my best to get an answer that will explain your concerns. I will also submit your comments and questions to the TBPG as well to ensure that they are seen and heard. This is an excellent opportunity to have a direct influence upon the licensure process. When people get involved, the TBPG will listen. With that in mind please use this opportunity to make the rules better. In Houston, I will be holding an informal work group of those who are interested to help get a better understanding of the proposed changes. If you are interested in joining that will be great. If you are not close to Houston, correspondences will be great or you can organize one in your region. If I become aware of work groups meeting I will inform you.

Stay tune I will be sending out new information on when the public hearings will be held.

Below will be links to follow that will have the rules as they have been proposed and information on the process.
Resource from the TBPG.
http://tbpg.state.tx.us/board/rules/rule-review/

Send comments and questions to:
Texas Association of Professional Geoscientists:tapgonline@gmail.com
Texas Board of Professional Geoscientists:chorton@tbpg.state.tx.us

Matthew R. Cowan, P.G. (TX, 1263)
TAPG PRESIDENT

This review is required by State Law to occur every 4 years. With this process they can add rules, delete rules, clarify rules or expand rules. This work though must be consistent with the intent as written in the Geoscience Practice Act which was created in conjunction by our association TAPG and other Geoscientists. This past July the Board completed its review process and put forth their work product for review in the Texas Register for a 30 day comment period. The TBPG held a meeting on August 8, 2014, in Houston, to discuss the rules.

  1. At this meeting, several members of the audience expressed a desire to hold open to the public additional comment time period for another 60 days.
  2. It was also requested that several public meetings be held around the State to gather input.
  3. Another request was that the public comments be made public in real time to be reviewed during the 60 day comment period instead of after the review period.

Based upon these requests, the TBPG took action by extending the public comment period by another 60 days, agreed to hold more public hearing to be held in Houston, Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth and another location to be announced ( suggestions were for West Texas or South Texas). The TBPG also voted to allow for publishing of comments for the public to see during the public comment period provided that it was in accordance with State Law.

With this comment period extended, I would ask that you take time to review the changes that have been proposed.

If there are comments please submit them both to the TBPG and to TAPG (TAPGONLINE@Gmail.com). If you have a question regarding a change please also feel free to ask the TBPG and TAPG. I will do my best to get an answer that will explain your concerns. I will also submit your comments and questions to the TBPG as well to ensure that they are seen and heard. This is an excellent opportunity to have a direct influence upon the licensure process. When people get involved, the TBPG will listen. With that in mind please use this opportunity to make the rules better. In Houston, I will be holding an informal work group of those who are interested to help get a better understanding of the proposed changes. If you are interested in joining that will be great. If you are not close to Houston, correspondences will be great or you can organize one in your region. If I become aware of work groups meeting I will inform you.

Stay tune I will be sending out new information on when the public hearings will be held.

Below will be links to follow that will have the rules as they have been proposed and information on the process.
Resource from the TBPG.
http://tbpg.state.tx.us/board/rules/rule-review/

Send comments and questions to:
Texas Association of Professional Geoscientists:tapgonline@gmail.com
Texas Board of Professional Geoscientists:chorton@tbpg.state.tx.us

Matthew R. Cowan, P.G. (TX, 1263)
TAPG PRESIDENT

The Wise Report

May 11, 2013

Henry M. Wise, P.G.

The following filed bills may be of interest to Texas geologists. New information is listed in bold:

HB 4, by Ritter, Price, Johnson, Doug Miller, and Lucio III, Relating to the administration and functions of the Texas Water Development Board; authorizing the issuance of revenue bonds. Senate amendment reduces the Texas Water Development Board from 6 voluntary members to 3 full-time members.  Those member appointed must be one member must have experience in the field of engineering, one member must have experience in the field of public or private finance, and one member must have experience in the field of law or business.  5/8/2013, Senate appoints conferees-reported. For more information go to: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/history.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=HB4

HB 86, by Callegari, Relating to the criteria for review by the Sunset Advisory Commission of an agency that licenses an occupation. “A member of the legislature may submit proposed legislation that would create an occupational licensing program or significantly affect an existing occupational licensing program to the commission for review and analysis.” This bill opens the door to more attacks on the TBPG, among other Boards. 5/13/2013, not again placed on intent calendar. For more information go to:http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=HB86

HB 87, by Callegari, Relating to regulation of an individual’s occupation. “An individual may engage in an occupation not prohibited by law without being subject to a state agency rule, policy, or practice that regulates the occupation if the rule, policy, or practice is:

(1) substantially burdensome; and

(2) unnecessary to fulfill the purpose and intent of the statute authorizing the regulation of the occupation.

(b) A state agency rule, policy, or practice may substantially burden an individual’s right to engage in an occupation only if the agency demonstrates that the rule, policy, or practice is necessary to fulfill the purpose and intent of the statute authorizing the regulation of the occupation. “

This bill also opens the door to more attacks on the TBPG, among other Boards. 4/30/2013, committee report sent to Calendars. For more information go to: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=HB87

HB 100, by Taylor, Van, Identical to SB 136, Relating to unit operations for oil, gas, or oil and gas production or carbon dioxide storage. 3/13/2013 Left pending in committee. For more information go to:http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=HB100

HB 147, by Burkett, Duplicate to HB 426, very similar to SB 467, Relating to the regulatory analysis of rules proposed by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. “Before adopting an environmental rule, the commission shall conduct a regulatory analysis that weighs the costs and environmental effects expected to result from implementation of and compliance with the rule.” 4/30/2013, failed to receive affirmative vote in committee. For more information go to: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=HB147

HB 340, by Rodriguez, Eddie, Relating to the power of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to authorize certain injection wells that transect or terminate in the Edwards Aquifer. Allows injection wells that transect or terminate in that portion of the Edwards Aquifer inside the boundaries of Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District. 5/9/2013, referred to Natural Resources. For more information go to:http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=HB340

HB 426, by Creighton, Duplicate to HB 147, very similar to SB 467, Relating to the regulatory analysis of rules proposed by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. “Before adopting an environmental rule, the commission shall conduct a regulatory analysis that weighs the costs and environmental effects expected to result from implementation of and compliance with the rule.” 2/11/2013, referred to Environmental Regulation. For more information go to: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=426

HB 569, by White, Relating to a study on the stringency of state environmental standards. The TCEQ will conduct a study of state environmental statutes and agency rules and assure that they aren’t more stringent than Federal requirements. 4/23/2013, left pending in committee. For more information go to: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=HB569

HB 677, by Geren, Relating to the regulation and enforcement of dam safety by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Exempts small dams located on private property from meeting requirements related to dam safety. 4/4/2013, referred to Administration. For more information go to: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=HB569

HB 788, by Smith, Relating to regulation of greenhouse gas emissions by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The TCEQ will adopt a program for the permitting of greenhouse gases and the program shall remain in effect until it’s been determined that greenhouse gas emissions are no longer required to be regulated under federal law, on the effective date of the determination. 5/9/2013, committee report printed and distributed. For more information go to: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=HB788

HB 824, by Callegari, Relating to a volume-based exemption from reporting requirements for accidental discharges or spills from wastewater facilities. It’s not necessary to notify the TCEQ of an accidental discharge or spill of 1,500 gallons or less from a wastewater treatment facility or works. 5/3/2013, referred to Natural Resources. For more information go to: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=HB824.

HB 878, by Crownover, Relating to the filing with the state of well logs by operators of oil-related or gas-related wells; providing a penalty. Well logs are to be filed electronically. 5/7/2013, not again placed on intent calendar. For more information go to: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=HB878.

HB 1079, by Smith, Identical to SB 434. Relating to the procedural requirements for action by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality on applications for production area authorizations. 5/14/2013, scheduled for public hearing. For more information go to: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=HB1079.

HB 1189, by Larson. Identical to SB 1168. Relating to interstate cooperation to address regional water issues. 4/16/2013, left pending in committee. For more information go to: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=HB1189.

HB 1600, by Cook. Identical to SB 206. Relating to the continuation and functions of the Public Utility Commission of Texas, to the transfer of certain functions from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to the Public Utility Commission of Texas, and to the functions of the Office of Public Utility Counsel; authorizing a fee. Transfers the powers, duties, functions, programs, and activities of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) relating to the economic regulation of water and sewer service to the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC). 5/9/2013, conference committee report diatributed. For more information go to: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=HB1600.

HB 2046, by Workman. Identical to SB 1024. Relating to a study evaluating and making recommendations for wastewater management in the contributing zone of the Barton Springs segment of the Edwards Aquifer. 4/2/2013, left pending in committee. For more information go to: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=HB2046.

HB 2146, by Hilderbran, Relating to limits on mining of marl, sand, gravel, shell, or mudshell in certain protected freshwater areas. Allows for no more than 1,000 cubic yards from the area located east of IH-35. 5/8/2013, placed on General State Calendar. For more information go to: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=HB2146.

HB 2166, by Bonnen and Dennis, Relating to the continuation, functions, and name of the Railroad Commission of Texas; providing for the imposition of fees, the repeal of provisions for the suspension of the collection of fees, and the elimination of a fee. Among other things, changes the name of the RRC to the Texas Energy Resources Commission. 5/6/25013, committee report sent to Calendars. For more information go to: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=HB2166.

HB 2577, by Larson. Identical to SB 272. Relating to water well recordkeeping and reporting requirements, including the production, use, and withdrawal of groundwater. 5/2/2013, committee report sent to Calendars. For more information go to: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=HB2577.

HB 2578, by Larson. Identical to SB 1760. Relating to the development of brackish groundwater. 5/10/2013, Referred to Natural Resources. For more information go to: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=HB2578.

HB 2624, by Ashby. Relating to the regulation of water wells under the jurisdiction of the Texas Commission of Licensing and Regulation to prevent groundwater pollution. 4/16/2013, left pending in committee. For more information go to: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=HB2624.

HB 2739, by Martinez, Fischer. Identical to SB 1763. Relating to the process for appealing the desired future conditions adopted by a groundwater conservation district for an aquifer. 5/9/2013, placed on General State Calendar. For more information go to: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=HB2739.

HB 2769, by Rodriguez, Justin. Relating to permitting requirements of groundwater conservation districts, including permits to transfer water. 4/23/2013, left pending in committee. For more information go to: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=HB2769.

HB 2992, by King, Tracy O. Relating to the reuse, discharge, or disposal of fluid produced from certain oil or gas wells on which a hydraulic fracturing treatment has been performed. 4/10/2013, left pending in committee. For more information go to: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=HB2992.

HB 3114, by Hilderbran. Relating to the regional groundwater planning process for minor aquifers. 4/16/2013, left pending in committee. For more information go to: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=HB3114.

HB 3250, by Callegari. Relating to protecting landowners against aquifer depletion. 4/16/2013, left pending in committee. For more information go to: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=HB3250.

HB 3289, by Martinez. Relating to the licensing of professionals engaged in Texas pollutant discharge elimination system-related stormwater activity. This is a new license for TPDES-related stormwater work. There’s a disparagy between PGs, who have to show experience, and PEs and architects, who don’t. 3/19/2013, referred to Natural Resources. For more information go to: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=HB3289.

HB 3309, by Crownover. Relating to the composition and use of money in the oil and gas regulation and cleanup fund. 5/14/2013, scheduled for public hearing. For more information go to: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=HB3309.

HB 3317, by Keffer. Identical to SB 1749. Relating to the exemption of a water well from certain permitting by and compliance with rules of a groundwater conservation district. 4/16/2013, left pending in committee. For more information go to: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=HB3317.

HB 3539, by Gutierez. Relating to the source and supply of water used for oil and gas exploration and production in the State of Texas. 3/20/2013, referred to Energy Resources. For more information go to: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=HB3539.

HB 3599, by Burnam. Relating to restrictions on the siting, drilling, completion, and operation of oil and gas wells in certain locations. 4/17/2013, left pending in committee. For more information go to: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=HB3599.

SB 136, by Ellis, Identical to HB 100. Relating to unit operations for oil, gas, or oil and gas production or carbon dioxide storage. 1/29/2013, referred to Natural Resources. For more information go to:http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/history.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=SB136

SB 138, by Zaffirini, Relating to procedures for filing complaints with, and providing notice of certain violations to, the Texas Board of Professional Geoscientists. This bill is designed to foster cooperation between agencies. As of now, the PG Board can only discover violations if a public complaint is made or the Board finds it themselves. This bill would require other agencies, such as the TCEQ to report violations to the PG Board when they find them. This has not been happening. 5/7/2013, committee report sent to Local & Consent Calendar. For more information go to:http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/history.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=SB138

SB 206, by Nichols. Identical to HB 1600. Relating to the continuation and functions of the Public Utility Commission of Texas, to the transfer of certain functions from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to the Public Utility Commission of Texas, and to the functions of the Office of Public Utility Counsel; authorizing a fee. Transfers the powers, duties, functions, programs, and activities of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) relating to the economic regulation of water and sewer service to the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC). 2/25/2013, referred to Business & Commerce. For more information go to:http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/history.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=SB206

SB 212, by Nichols, Huffman. Identical to HB 2166. Relating to the continuation, functions, and name of the Railroad Commission of Texas; providing for the imposition of fees, the repeal of provisions for the suspension of the collection of fees, and the elimination of a fee. 5/9/2013, referred to Energy Resources. For more information go to:http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/history.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=SB212

SB 272, by Seliger. Identical to HB 2577, Relating to water well recordkeeping and reporting requirements, including the production, use, and withdrawal of groundwater. 4/15/2013, referred to Natural Resources. For more information go to: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/history.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=SB272.

SB 434, by Smith, Identical to HB 1079. Relating to the procedural requirements for action by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality on applications for production area authorizations. 5/6/2013, not again placed on intent calendar. For more information go to: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=SB434.

SB 467, by Hegar. Very similar to HB 147 and HB 426. Relating to the regulatory analysis of rules proposed by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. 5/8/2013, referred to Environmental Regulation. For more information go to: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=SB467.

SB 536, by Hinojosa. Relating to regulation of greenhouse gas emissions by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Before adopting an environmental rule, the commission shall conduct a regulatory analysis that weighs the costs and environmental effects expected to result from implementation of and compliance with the rule. 2/20/2013, referred to Natural Resources. For more information go to: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=SB536.

SB 584, by Hegar. Relating to a volume-based exemption from reporting requirements for accidental discharges or spills from wastewater facilities. Reportable sewage spills from a wastewater treatment facility are greater than 1,500 gallons. 2/20/2013, referred to Natural Resources. For more information go to : http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=SB584.

SB 873, by Hegar. Relating to the authority of a groundwater conservation district to require a permit for the drilling or operation of a water well used to supply water for the performance of a hydraulic fracturing treatment on an oil or gas well. Groundwater Districts may not provide an exemption to the requirement to obtain a permit. 5/6/2013, referred to Natural Resources. For more information go to:http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=SB873.

SB 941, by Davis. Relating to the adoption of rules by the Railroad Commission of Texas regulating the exploration for and production of natural gas in the unincorporated areas of certain counties. “Rules adopted under this section must promote gas exploration and production while securing the quality of life and existing economic interests, including property values and development plans, in the unincorporated areas of the counties.”. 3/12/2013, referred to Natural Resources. For more information go to:http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=SB941.

SB 1024, by Watson. Identical to HB 2046. Relating to a study evaluating and making recommendations for wastewater management in the contributing zone of the Barton Springs segment of the Edwards Aquifer. 3/12/2013, referred to Natural Resources. For more information go to:http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=SB1024.

SB 1168, by Hegar. Identical to HB 1189. Relating to interstate cooperation to address regional water issues. 3/12/2013, referred to Natural Resources. For more information go to:http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=SB1168.

SB 1249, by Carona. Relating to plugging, capping, repairing, or completing certain wells. 4/2/2013, left pending in committee. For more information go to:http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=SB1249.

SB 1532, by Zaffirini. Relating to the power of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to authorize certain injection wells that transect or terminate in the Edwards Aquifer. 5/9/2013, committee report sent to Local & Consent Calendar. For more information go to:http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=SB1532.

SB 1749, by Uresti. Identical to HB 3317. Relating to the exemption of a water well from certain permitting by and compliance with rules of a groundwater conservation district. 3/25/2013, referred to Natural Resources. For more information go to:http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=SB1749.

SB 1760, by Uresti. Identical to HB 2578. Relating to the development of brackish groundwater. 5/7/2013, left pending in committee. For more information go to:http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=SB1760.

SB 1763, by Uresti. Identical to HB 2539. Relating to permitting requirements of groundwater conservation districts, including permits to transfer water. 3/25/2013, referred to Natural Resources. For more information go to:http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=SB1763.

SB 1819, by Deuell. Relating to the location of a sand mine; authorizing an administrative penalty. 3/19/2013, referred to Natural Resources. For more information go to:http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=SB1819.

I’ll be updating this list in the future, throughout the legislative session.

Henry M. Wise, P.G.

The Wise Report

May 11, 2013

  • The Texas Association of Professional Geoscientists welcomes the three new Board Members to the Texas Board of Professional Geoscientists.  We look forward to working with them.  Below is the press release with the short bios of the new members. 

    “Gov. Rick Perry has appointed three members to the Texas Board of Professional Geoscientists for terms to expire Feb. 1, 2019. The board licenses and regulates the public practice of geoscience.

    Joseph P. DeWoody of Fort Worth is president of Clear Fork Royalty. He is a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization, National Association of Royalty Owners and American Association of Professional Landmen, and a board member of the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers and Oil Information Library of Fort Worth. He is also junior adviser to the Fort Worth Club Board of Governors, and a volunteer for the Ronald McDonald House of Fort Worth and Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo. DeWoody received a bachelor’s degree and a Master of Business Administration from Baylor University.

    Charles Thomas Hallmark of Hearne is a retired professor in the Texas A&M University Soil and Crop Sciences Department. He is a member of the American Registry of Certified Professionals in Soil Science, a current member and past president of the Professional Soil Scientists Association of Texas, and past president of the Post Oak Soil and Water Conservation Society. He is also a past member of the Soil Scientists Certification Board, American Society of Agronomy, and Soil Science Society of America. Hallmark served in the U.S. Army. He received a bachelor’s degree from Texas Technological College, a master’s degree in soil science from Texas Tech University, and a doctorate of pedology from Ohio State University. He is reappointed to the board.

    W. David Prescott II of Amarillo is president of Talon/LPE LTD. He is a member of the Texas Association of Professional Geoscientists and Texas Food and Fuel Association, and a board member of the Amarillo Tri State Exposition, Boy Scouts of America Golden Spread Council and West Texas A&M University Engineering and Enterprise Center advisory boards. He is a past board member of the Amarillo Chamber of Commerce, Don Harrington Discovery Center, and Texas Panhandle Chapter of the American Red Cross and West Texas A&M University Alumni Association. Prescott received a bachelor’s degree in environmental science and Master of Business Administration from West Texas A&M University.”

Gov. Rick Perry has appointed Christopher C. Mathewson of College Station to the Texas Board of Professional Geoscientists for a term to expire Feb. 1, 2017. The board licenses and regulates the public practice of geoscience.

Mathewson is a regents professor emeritus and a senior professor of geology at Texas A&M University. He is a licensed professional engineer in Texas and Arizona, and a licensed professional geologist in Texas and Oregon. He is a life member of the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Society of American Military Engineers, a fellow of the Geological Society of America, and is a member of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, the Division of Environmental Geosciences, and the American Geophysical Union. He is also a member of the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical & Petroleum Engineers, American Institute of Professional Geologists, the International Association of Engineering Geologists, the International Code Council, National Association of Geology Teachers and the South African Institute of Engineering Geologists. Mathewson is also a member of the Council of Examiners of the National Association of State Boards of Geology and participates in the writing and review of the licensure examination for professional geologists. He is past president and former executive director of the Association of Environmental and Engineering Geologists, and is past chairman of the Texas Section of the Association of Engineering Geologists, the Geological Society of America Engineering Geology Division, and the U.S. National Committee for International Association of Engineering Geologists. He is past president of the American Geological Institute and a former trustee of the Geological Society of America Foundation. He also served as a commissioned officer in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Mathewson received a bachelor’s degree from Case Institute of Technology, and a master’s degree and Doctorate of Geological Engineering from the University of Arizona.

From Energy In Depth

1) Why the huge difference between what EPA found in its monitoring wells and what was detected in private wells from which people actually get their water?

  • Contrary to what was reported yesterday, the compounds of greatest concern detected by EPA in Pavillion weren’t found in water wells that actually supply residents their water – they were detected by two “monitoring wells” drilled by EPA outside of town.
  • After several rounds of EPA testing of domestic drinking water wells in town, only one organic compound (bis (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate) was found to exceed state or federal drinking water standards – an additive in plastics and one of the most commonly detected organic compounds in water. According to EPA: “Detections in drinking water wells are generally below established health and safety standards.”
  • Bruce Hinchey, president of Petroleum Association of Wyoming: “Let me be clear, the EPA’s findings indicate that there is no connection between oil and natural gas operations and impacts to domestic water wells.” (PAW press release, Dec. 8, 2011)
  • In contrast, EPA found “a wide variety of organic chemicals” in its two monitoring wells, with greater concentrations found in the deeper of the two. The only problem? EPA drilled its monitoring wells into a hydrocarbon-bearing formation. Think it’s possible that could explain the presence of hydrocarbons?
  • According to governor of Wyoming: “The study released today from EPA was based on data from two test wells drilled in 2010 and tested once that year and once in April, 2011. Those test wells are deeper than drinking wells. The data from the test wells was not available to the rest of the working group until a month ago.” (Gov. Mead press release, issued Dec. 8, 2011)

2) After reviewing the data collected by Region 8, why did EPA administrator Lisa Jackson tell a reporter that, specific to Pavillion, “we have absolutely no indication now that drinking water is at risk”? (video available here)

  • Of note, Administrator Jackson offered those comments to a reporter from energyNOW! a full week after Region 8 publicly released its final batch of Pavillion data. In that interview, Jackson indicates that she personally analyzed the findings of the report, and was personally involved in conversations and consultations with staff, local officials, environmental groups, the state and the operator.
  • After reviewing all that information, and conducting all those interviews, if the administrator believed that test results from EPA’s monitoring wells posed a danger to the community, why would she say the opposite of that on television?
  • And if she believed that the state of Wyoming had failed to do its job, why would she – in that same interview – tell energyNOW! that “you can’t start to talk about a federal role [in regulating fracturing] without acknowledging the very strong state role.” (2:46) A week later, why did she choose to double-down on those comments in an interview with Rachel Maddow, telling the cable host that “states are stepping up and doing a good job”? (9:01, aired Nov. 21, 2011)

3) Did all those chemicals that EPA used to drill its monitoring wells affect the results?

  • Diethanolamine? Anionic polyacrylamide? Trydymite? Bentonite? Contrary to conventional wisdom, chemicals are needed to drill wells, not just fracture them – even when the purpose of those wells has nothing to do with oil or natural gas development.
  • In this case, however, EPA’s decision to use “dense soda ash” as part of the process for drilling its monitoring wells could have proved a bad one.
  • One of the main justifications EPA uses to implicate hydraulic fracturing as a source of potential contamination is the high pH readings it says it found in its monitoring wells. But dense soda ash has a recorded pH (11.5) very similar to the level found in the deep wells, creating the possibility that the high pH recorded by EPA could have been caused by the very chemicals it used to drill its own wells.
  • According to Tom Doll, supervisor of the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission: “More sampling is needed to rule out surface contamination or the process of building these test wells as the source of the concerning results.” (as quoted in governor’s press release, Dec. 8, 2011)

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday for the first time that fracking — a controversial method of improving the productivity of oil and gas wells — may be to blame for causing groundwater pollution.

The draft finding could have significant implications while states try to determine how to regulate the process. Environmentalists characterized the report as a significant development though it met immediate criticism from the oil and gas industry and a U.S. senator.

The practice is called hydraulic fracturing and involves pumping pressurized water, sand and chemicals underground to open fissures and improve the flow of oil or gas to the surface.

The EPA found that compounds likely associated with fracking chemicals had been detected in the groundwater beneath Pavillion, a small community in central Wyoming where residents say their well water reeks of chemicals. Health officials last year advised them not to drink their water after the EPA found low levels hydrocarbons in their wells.

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