A new report claims that the Eagle Ford fracking boom is releasing huge amounts of potentially toxic chemicals into the Brush Country air, and that state regulators are powerless, or unwilling, to stop it, 1200 WOAI news reports.
John Morris with the Center for Public Integrity researched dozens of sites across the Eagle Ford, and says there are massive emissions of the potentially dangerous gas Hydrogen Sulfide across the region.
"It would be like taking an oil refinery from Houston and plopping it down in the middle of rural south Texas," Morris said.
While previous studies have looked at greenhouse gas emissions, the CPI study, which was done in conjunction with the Weather Channel, looks at toxic chemicals.
"Toxic chemicals could end up being as big a problem, or a bigger problem, than contaminated water," he said.
Morris says the speed at which the Eagle Ford fracking boom has ramped up, and the relative unwillingness of Texas regulators to take on the oil and gas industry are leading to potential problems for Brush Country residents.
Morris points out that there are only five permanent air monitors across the entire Eagle Ford region, an area the size of the state of Massachusetts.
He says despite the filing of hundreds of complaints, only two fines were levied for air quality violations in 2013.
He recalls talking to one family near Karnes City which has more than fifty working and flaring oil and gas wells within two miles of their home.
"The people who aren't cashing in on this boom are really feeling left out," he said. "They are in many cases retirees who moved to Karnes County for the peace and quite, and they had it, at least until a couple of years ago."
Morris says the problem is not necessarily in the fracking wells themselves, but the processing plants and other facilities in the Eagle Ford.
"Three facilities within a couple of miles of this particular families have the state's permission to put out as much volatile organic compounds as a major oil refinery," he said.