Friday, August 26, 2011

Public Meeting Concerning Sand Mine Draws Record Crowd

from a report submitted to the Saint Jo Tribune

A standing room only crowd attended a five-hour public meeting August 23 at the Muenster ISD cafeteria. Those attended expressed their opinions on the EOG Resources application for an air quality permit permit for a proposed frac sand mine and processing facility just west of Bulcher on the south side of FM 373.

The meeting involved two parts, an informal session and a formal session. The informal session consisted of a question and answer period allowing the public to ask questions to representatives from EOG and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).

The audience in the packed cafeteria listened attentively to local citizens expressing their concerns and objections to the pending air quality permit, the frac sand processing facility, and the negative environmental impact it might have.

Questions asked of the TCEQ and EOG representatives covered topics ranging from air quality, truck traffic and emissions, water availability and quality, facility lighting, and the effects on the natural wildlife.

Wylie Harris asked questions regarding the accuracy of some of the numbers in the permit application. One specific question he asked of EOG was how many water wells would be needed. EOG representative Curt Parsons replied, ”a handful.” Patty Fleitman asked if there would be independent air quality monitoring done in and around the facility. TCEQ responded that the agency does not require this.
The TCEQ also responded that if members of the public had a concern or issue, they could file a complaint and submit any evidence of the dust to the agency.

Nancee Turlington stated that the silica dust is not visible to the human eye and cannot be seen in the air. She asked the TCEQ how she would know if she were breathing the dust if it cannot be seen, and how she is supposed to collect it to submit a complaint if it is invisible? James Schoppa and B.B. Lozano addressed the TCEQ with environmental questions on how this facility would impact them in the long term.

In the formal comment section, 39 people formally addressed the TCEQ. Twelve of those spoke in support of EOG and the proposed facility. Of those 12, 11 were EOG employees and the other was Tommy Fenoglio of Montague. The other 27 people who were opposed to this permit were local Cooke and Montague County citizens.

Brandon and Holly Harris-Bayer addressed the TCEQ regarding the negative environmental and economic impact that the proposed EOG facility would have on the Red River Motorcycle Trails, which has been in operation since 1972. They have requested a contested case hearing from the TCEQ on the permit application.

EOG Resources employees showed up in full force to offer their support. Ricky Oneal, a local EOG employee, praised his employer for all of the opportunities the company has brought to this area . Tommy Fenoglio stated that he supported EOG and the proposed facility, and that EOG has been very good to Montague County.

Greg Bohl, Muenster city councilman, raised his concern over the water usage at the facility. Since the Muenster water supply is also out of the Trinity Aquifer, he was worried the huge use of water at the sand facility would jeopardize the Muenster water supply. Penny Jordan, of the Gladys community, challenged the TCEQ to do the right thing for this community, and asked agency representatives how they would like the facility next door to them.

Throughout the meeting, while citizens expressed serious concerns on the issue of air quality, the topic of water availability, quality, and usage was brought up continually by the people speaking to the TCEQ and EOG. TCEQ representative continually responded that they were there to address only the pending permit, which deals strictly with air quality.

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