Hydraulic fracturing on lands owned by the University of Texas system should be curtailed, Environment Texas Research and Policy Center said. But the Texas Producers & Royalty Owners Association (TIPRO) said the group's claims of harm from fracking are "false" and that the organization lacks credibility.
"Fracking of thousands of wells on university-owned land in recent years has consumed enormous quantities of water, introduced vast amounts of toxic chemicals into the environment, and threatened land that is valuable to the environment and wildlife," said Luke Metzger, an author of a report on university lands fracking and director of Environment Texas. "If UT is going to continue to allow fracking, it must, at the very least, act immediately to eliminate the worst industry practices and safeguard the environment and public health."
The report found that as many as 4,132 wells drilled on university-owned land in west Texas since 2005 have been subject to fracking, the group said, criticizing the practice for heavy water use and reliance on "toxic chemicals." It also alleged the spillage of 1.6 million gallons of "pollution" on UT lands.
"The latest installment from anti-oil and gas organizations immediately loses credibility by yet again making false claims about hydraulic fracturing, the majority of which have already been refuted by the scientific community and governmental agencies at the state and federal level," said TIPRO President Ed Longanecker. "Hydraulic fracturing has revolutionized domestic oil and gas production, and continues to be performed in a safe and responsible manner by operators not only in West Texas, but across the state and throughout the nation.
"Despite inaccuracies and false assumptions that may be spread by activist organizations, we are reminded by the fact that to date, there remains no confirmed case of groundwater contamination from hydraulic fracturing. The definitive connections made throughout the report are both reckless and desperate, but not surprising given the history of these organizations and their anti-oil and gas rhetoric. When an organization’s mission is to stop the development of hydrocarbons in our country, that mission has a tendency to skew the truth and create biased, often inaccurate, reporting to justify its existence and advance its cause.
Rohit Mandapalu, UT Austin student government vice president, said he thought the university would take these recommendations seriously, pointing to comments made earlier this year by UT Chancellor McRaven, who told an audience at a Texas Tribune event that he would support stronger environmental standards as part of UT oil and gas leases.