On this episode of Gulf Streams on KPFT Houston, host Weston Twardowski, an instructor at Rice University’s Environmental Studies program and the program manager for the Diluvial Houston Initiative, speaks with Amanda Drane, an energy reporter at the Houston Chronicle, and Paige Powell, Commission Shift’s policy manager.
“To say oil is a part of life in Texas is an understatement. From the accidental discovery of crude oil in east Texas in 1894, drilling and the boom and bust cycles of growth incumbent with extraction have been a part of Texas culture. Drilling for black gold — Texas tea — oil, that is, has reshaped the state’s economy cities and small towns and our environment in ways that will have impacts for centuries to come. One of the most pressing of these impacts is the afterlives of oil wells: just because a well no longer produces oil doesn’t mean it isn’t producing numerous other chemicals and threats. In addition to leaking toxic gases that just so happen to contribute to climate change, these sites can be local hazards that endanger nearby populations, especially when they form into sinkholes which have in many places swallowed entire streets and buildings.” — host Weston Twardowski
Quotes from the episode from Paige:
“(The Lake Boehmer orphan well) very well could be the Railroad Commission’s problem if they wanted it to be, but for 20 years this well has been spewing toxic, deadly fluids and gases. And our commissioners at the state are passing this hot potato back and forth between TCEQ and the Commission like they don’t know what to do about it. It just shows a real lack of concern for the health and safety of the people of Texas.“
- “As things start moving in the subsurface (underneath carbon capture, use, and storage facilities) and finding these unplugged wells and avenues for escape, we’re not just seeing the leakage of toxic gases and brine water and all these other things, but the CO2 is leaving as well. So any climate benefit that we would’ve had through enhanced oil recovery storage of carbon dioxide is completely lost.“
“Texas is proud of its oil and gas industry, and I think that’s something that we can ride on. We really need to be the leader of the world in energy policy, and we have the opportunity right now to do that.“
The whole conversation is rich with information on the widespread problem of leaking wells and injection wells. We encourage you to listen in!