Sand Mining for Fracking in Texas


:sandOn our 2011 list of America’s Most Endangered Rivers, we highlighted many types of mining, from uranium to copper and gold to coal. It is no secret that extractive industries tend to be hard on the environment. 

When we listed our #1 Most Endangered River this year, the Susquehanna River, for natural gas development, we had not pointed out its connection to mining. Fracking requires sand that is…you guess it…mined!

In 2006 [PDF], we listed the San Jacinto River in Texas for the threat of sand mining as one of America’s Most Endangered Rivers.  Apparently, another river in Texas, Mountain Creek, is now threatened with this same practice and the sand would be destined for fracking in the Barnett Shale.

One of the largest independent oil and gas companies in the United States plans to create a new sand mine on the banks of Mountain Creek – a mile above its confluence with the Red River.  This sand mine has the potential to ravage the landscape, destroy fish and wildlife habitat, pollute air and water, and once finished, they are not required to reclaim the land.

Incredibly, this project will use up to 3,700 gallons of water per minute, or 5.3 million gallons per day – much of it drawn from groundwater in north Texas aquifers. For a comparison, the average municipal customer in Dallas uses around 182 gallons per day.  That is a lot of water for a region of the country that is constantly battling drought.

But we can do something about it right now.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) is accepting comments on an air quality permit for this project, which gives the public an opportunity to provide comments and to request a public meeting.

TAKE ACTION: If you live in Texas, you can submit comments online here. Deadline for public comments is June 24.

In comments, you must reference permit number 95412 and the applicant’s name (EOG, Inc).  Please request a public meeting as this will give our partners more opportunity to influence this development.  For further information, including issues to address in your comment letter, please go to: http://trinityaquifer.blogspot.com.

By the way, this sand mining for fracking is not just happening in Texas.  Here is a story from Wisconsin that talks about the need to achieve a balance with sand mining.