Good news, bad news

June 10, 2007

Wise County Messenger

Phil King

Recently I have been hearing questions about whether or not the Barnett Shale was really good for anyone other than the mineral owners and oil and gas companies in Texas. The Barnett Shale does bring both good news and bad news to Parker County.

On the good side, the economic impact of the Barnett Shale can most noticeably be seen in the estimated 108,000 Texans with jobs related to the gas boom. A recent study by the Perryman Group, an economic and financial analysis firm, identified that the economic impact of the Barnett Shale play will be responsible for $10.8 billion in economic output each year.

The bad side is, of course, the stress on our roadways from wear and tear, increased truck traffic, increased accidents involving large trucks, the expansive new pipelines and the general noise and nuisance near drilling locations. To counter the negatives that come along with all of the drilling and increased traffic on our roads, this past legislative session I authored several pieces of legislation.

I authored an amendment to H.B. 2982 that will bring the tax revenue from portable drilling rigs into the counties where the rigs are actually being used, instead of their principle place of business (most companies are based in Houston). We secured funds for increased truck inspectors in the DPS budget which will help ensure that the trucks traveling on our roads are safe and following the law. I authored provisions of the eminent domain bill, H.B. 2006, which has several landowner protections to help protect the private property rights of residents dealing with common carrier pipeline companies. I also authored and passed H.B. 630, a bill that requires drilling companies to give notice to surface landowners before they come on to begin drilling.

I also carried a bill in the House, S.B. 1983, which will create, pending voter approval in November, the Upper Trinity Groundwater Conservation District. The district will have the unique power to regulate water wells that are used to drill and frac gas wells through spacing and reporting requirements. The district will be funded through permit fees on commercial (non-agricultural and non-residential) wells. The district would be the only groundwater district in the state to have these powers over gas producers.

As you can see there are great benefits to having responsible drilling taking place in our county, but it is also important that the drilling companies carry their share of the load and not leave the taxpayers with the burden of repairing the roads that they benefit from using. I hope that the Legislature’s efforts will help to elevate concerns for our county road system while helping to provide a free market approach to continuing to grow job opportunities in our community.

The Perryman Report can be downloaded as a PDF here.

Phil King
State representative
District 61