Mineral Exploration Inside City Limits - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

11/14/05 - Nacogdoches

Mineral Exploration Inside City Limits

by Donna McCollum

The gas and oil boom is in Nacogdoches... literally. Inquiries from exploration companies wanting to search for oil and gas within the city limits are increasing. Two requests are in the permitting stage. That begins with City Planner Aaron Kulhavy. "The first thing we do is send letters out to all property owners within 200 feet of the request, and the more people that get notices, the more likely there is to be opposition to that."

So far, the requests are for exploration in sparsely populated areas, like the city landfill. The state won't allow drilling operations on landfills, so the company will set up a rig adjacent to the property, and reach the minerals through directional drilling. Another proposed drilling site is the southwest corner of East Starr and Loop 224.

The risks include contamination of groundwater, runoff to lakes and streams, and hazards to workers and residents. The owner of Hydrex Environmental Inc., Glenn Collier, isn't too concerned. "If they operate according to the regulations, then any concern should be minimized." State agencies, including the Texas Railroad Commission, regulate drilling procedures, no matter where the rigs are located. Collier explained, "What they'll have to do is case and cement off the freshwater aquifer and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality will tell the driller - the drilling company - how deep they'll have to set their casings."

The city's comprehensive plan encourages development, and recognizes it can happen below ground as much as it can above ground. The city owns the mineral rights at the city landfill. It will receive money from that mineral leasing. At other locations, the city receives $750 dollars through permitting fees and some tax revenue when the well starts producing.

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