By Alan Gibbs, City Engineer
The oil and gas boom has made the United States the world’s top oil producer, thanks largely to oil extraction from shale formations in Texas and North Dakota. Brazos County sits on the eastern edge of one of the country’s largest shale formations, the Eagle Ford, which stretches from the Mexican border to Leon County.
Balancing economic interests with environmental concerns and neighborhood impacts has made drilling and fracking a major issue across the nation. With local oil and gas production thriving, the City of College Station is looking at ways to amend its existing oil and gas ordinance (Sec. 4-13), which hasn’t been updated in more than two decades.
The College Station City Council will consider the changes at its regular meeting next Thursday, which will include a public hearing. The proposed update would reflect current best practices and align our regulations with existing state permitting and oversight. The council will also be presented with a road maintenance agreement and associated fee to address additional heavy truck trips on city roads, and a financial assurance agreement as an option for satisfying bond and insurance requirements.
The Texas Railroad Commission is the primary regulator of oil and gas wells in the state and is responsible for issuing well permits. The RRC oversees drilling, fracking and associated operations in regard to public safety, groundwater protection, etc. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality assists the RRC by regulating and monitoring air quality.
In November, staff presented its recommendations for changing the ordinance to the College Station City Council, which suggested additional requirements — including more opportunities for public feedback and input. The latest version of the draft ordinance includes changes resulting from that engagement.
Our outside counsel, Ernest Bruchez of Bruchez, Goss, Thornton, Meronoff & Hawthorne, provided significant assistance in this effort.
Our goal is to update the ordinance in a responsible way that protects neighborhoods while respecting property rights. If you have any questions or comments, you are encouraged to post them below or contact me directly at email@example.com or 979/764-3570.
About the Author: Alan Gibbs has been College Station’s city engineer since 2007 after three years as senior assistant city engineer. He previously was an assistant city engineer in Bryan and Conroe. A native of Plano, Alan received a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering from Texas A&M in 1993.