Senator Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, joined Senator Troy Fraser, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources, on Monday to announce a doubling of air quality monitors in the Barnett Shale region.
“Our economy – especially in Texas – cannot flourish without energy. But none of us can flourish without our health, and that has to be our top priority moving forward,” she said.
Senator Nelson, together with other lawmakers and local officials, welcomed the addition of eight automated gas chromatograph (AutoGC) monitors. They will bring the total operated by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to 15. The monitors will collect emissions data around the clock to measure levels of 45 volatile organic compounds.
Members of the Texas Legislature also directed the state environmental agency to contract with a third-party to assist in the evaluation of the data.
Senator Nelson, who represents portions of Tarrant and Denton counties, said 42 percent of Barnett Shale drilling sites are located in those counties. “I know that these new monitoring sites are going to be welcome news to our community,” she said.
As Chairman of the Senate Health & Human Services Committee, Senator Nelson said that she has been working closely with the Department of State Health Services, which conducted a series of biological tests on residents in Denton County to determine if there are any elevated levels of the by-products associated with natural gas drilling.
She also asked the state health department to look into whether any cancer clusters existed.
“So far, the Department has found that our area’s testing is in line with what you would find in similarly populated regions. But we have to remain vigilant,” said Nelson.