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Thursday, March 04, 2010

Recent Air Quality Testing by TCEQ

Air Quality in the Barnett Shale

Chesapeake Energy works to be a good environmental steward and to employ best practices in order to protect our community. As you may have heard, recent privately-funded studies suggest there are unregulated air emissions occurring in the Barnett Shale area which are allegedly leading to diminished air quality. The following information has been compiled to help place perspective on this important issue.

Current Air Quality

In 1991, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declared the greater Dallas/Fort Worth region to be an “ozone nonattainment area.” This designation means that the air quality in the North Texas area is poor and that it has not met the standards to reduce emissions set by the EPA and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). The area received the status long before natural gas drilling became active in the Barnett Shale.

According to the TCEQ and the EPA, car and truck emissions are by far the largest sources and contributors to ozone formation in the nine-county DFW nonattainment area at 43%.

Recent Emissions Studies

Texas Commission on Evirionmental Quality Studies

On January 12, 2010, the TCEQ released its results of air samples taken in Fort Worth during December. The study evaluated more than 100 natural gas production facilities within the city limits of Fort Worth and utilized Forward Looking Infrared Cameras and toxic vapor analyzers to provide real time detection and estimation of total volatile organic compound (VOC) concentrations.

No detectable amounts of VOCs were found during testing, and according to the TCEQ results indicated no cause for concern.

Within two weeks after releasing the Fort Worth results, the TCEQ shared the same positive results with the City of Flower Mound where similar tests were performed. Testing there also found little or no benzene.

On January 27, 2010, the TCEQ issued its much anticipated survey results from data collected last fall. The results reinforced initial findings in the region and the natural gas industry’s assertion that production of natural gas in Tarrant County does not negatively impact ambient air quality. “There’s no need for widespread alarm,” said Toxicology Division Director Dr. Michael Honeycutt during a press conference at the TCEQ’s regional office in Fort Worth.

  • TCEQ's most recent study monitored 94 sites across five counties and found only two locations in Wise County (non-Chesapeake) that would trigger immediate actions to reduce emissions. Both sites have since been corrected.
  • TCEQ’s Fort Worth study reviewed 126 locations and found no sites with high levels of benzene.
  • Existing monitoring stations near oil and gas production have shown a decrease in benzene levels for the past decade.
  • TCEQ will install two more long-term monitoring locations at Eagle Mountain Lake and the community of DISH.
  • TCEQ expects to resume similar air quality testing in the spring of 2010.
The TCEQ is the environmental agency for Texas. The TCEQ strives to protect our state's human and natural resources consistent with sustainable economic development. Our goal is clean air, clean water, and the safe management of waste. For more information about the TCEQ, visit

Click here to read the TCEQ press release entitled, Oil and Gas Air Test in Ft. Worth Find "No Cause for Concern."

Click here to read Railroad Commission Chairman Victor Carrillo's statement on Barnett Shale Air emissions issues.

Prviately Funded Studies

The TCEQ’s Fort Worth results contradict a privately-funded air emission study conducted at a Westworth Village farm. The study represented data incorrectly and exaggerated the potential hazards based on laboratory results from samples collected over a 24-hour period. Industrial Hygiene and Safety Technology, Inc. (IHST), an outside consultant retained by Fort Worth to review the study indicated the results from the Westworth Village study were “rudimentary and inaccurate” in nature. After technical review it is apparent that the same approach was used in the Town of DISH.

Click on the icon to download or read the IHST study review.


The TCEQ has found the production of natural gas in Tarrant, western Dallas and eastern Johnson counties generates little to no benzene air emissions. Most of the natural gas produced by Chesapeake in the Barnett Shale has 0.001% or 1/1,000th of 1% benzene in the gas stream, as compared to approximately 0.5 – 1% in vehicle gasoline.

Benzene is:

  • Colorless chemical produced from a variety of natural and industrial sources.
  • Not unique to the natural gas industry.
  • Ranked in the top 20 chemicals used for the production of industrial products measured by volume.
  • Found in tobacco smoke, gas stations emissions, motor vehicle exhaust, building materials, fireplaces and industrial emissions

For more information on benzene, click here.


Anonymous said...

You might want to read the actual TCEQ report because there is a huge chasm between CHK's spin and what was actually in the report.

Testing has consistently proven that emissions are happening on a regular basis.

D.G. Worley said...

I have reviewed the TCEQ report at this link:, and see that there are indeed emissions. I agree that there should be additional long-term monitoring of wells in the Barnett Shale.

Where there are environmental issues I will always have a concern for the public welfare of our citizens.