FORT WORTH — State Sen. Wendy Davis is speaking out about a Fort Worth emissions survey, saying conclusions can't be drawn from a snapshot.
She addressed the North Central Texas Communities Alliance at a packed meeting Wednesday night.
The group is frustrated by what happened at a meeting of the Fort Worth City Council on Tuesday, where members were assured that all is well with emissions near natural gas facilities in the city.
"You wouldn't want to think this, but maybe they don't want to find anything in populated area," said DISH Mayor Calvin Tillman. A study commissioned by his small Denton County town found problems at natural gas processing facilities.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality examined 126 natural gas facilities in Fort Worth. Instruments and cameras indicated emissions at eight of them. Air samples from those locations contained no benzene, which is a known carcinogen.
"This wasn't a test that has now answered the question and we're done," Sen. Davis said.
Critics point out that the TCEQ survey was done on three cold days, when chemicals are not as likely to evaporate into the air. Davis said the agency admitted that point to her.
"They understand that's not going to be the ideal circumstance to test whether benzene emissions are really occurring," Davis said.
Driller have maintained that the natural gas in most of Fort Worth has extremely low levels of chemicals, unlike other parts of the Barnett Shale.
More testing is planned for warmer weather. The TCEQ has already taken 301 air samples in the Barnett Shale, focusing outside of Fort Worth.
Fifty of those samples contained levels of benzene above the commission's benchmark for concern if the levels are sustained over years.
The Texas Railroad Commission's Chairman said Wednesday that a moratorium on drilling permits while more study is conducted would be a drastic overreaction.
The North Central Texas Communities Alliance supports such a moratorium, and has urged cities to consider the issue locally.