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Agriculture Today

Cattlemen: stewards of the land, water

Cattlemen: stewards of the land, water
PAT KOPECKI/Reprints at wilsoncountynews.com Kitty Sue Quinn, executive director of the Texas Land & Mineral Owners Association, addresses members of the South Central Texas Chapter of the Independent Cattlemen’s Association Oct. 18 in Falls City.

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Wilson County News
November 23, 2011
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FALLS CITY -- As the oil and gas exploration in the Eagle Ford shale formation continues, cattlemen are concerned about land rights and the environment.

Kitty Sue Quinn, executive director of the Texas Land & Mineral Owners Association, addressed members of the South Central Texas Chapter of the Independent Cattlemen’s Association Oct. 18 in Falls City. Key issues addressed by Quinn include the plugging of orphaned and abandoned oil and gas wells and the protection of groundwater.

“Landowners rarely get their day in court,” Quinn began, as she spoke of her lobbying efforts with the Texas Land & Mineral Owners Association.

The association, created in 1999 with 54 members, today has a membership of more than 1,200. Members, according to the association’s brochure, “wanted to create an entity which would maintain and strengthen property rights for all Texas and royalty owners while working to protect our land and water resources from the poorly regulated oil exploration industry.”

As of Aug. 3, more than 396,000 oil and gas wells were found in the Lone Star State. According to the association brochure, more than “110,000 wells are fully depleted, many abandoned, and need to be plugged.”

Quinn cited a total of 391 dead wells -- a well that will not flow -- located in Wilson and Karnes counties. See chart for breakdown of the number of gas, oil, shut-in, and orphaned wells found in these two counties. An orphaned well is defined as a well that has been inactive a year or longer.

Shut-in wells are closed off, and not producing.

Why should landowners be concerned?

According to the association, “Abandoned wells can have pipes that may corrode, leaking pollutants straight into aquifers. Disintegrating pipes move saltwater from deeper formations directly into shallow freshwater aquifers.”

Future legislation regarding the oil and gas exploration targeted by Quinn includes:

•Fighting compulsory utilization and forced pooling of acreage.

•Surface use rules.

•Accurate royalty calculations for landowners.

•Disposal wells. She noted that several private wells exist in South Texas.

Disposal wells are used by companies to inject oil and gas field-waste underground for months or years. According to the website, www.earthworkaction.org, “if cracks in a well’s cement job or geological faults are present, fluids may preferentially migrate upward and contaminate freshwater aquifers.”

For more information about the Texas Land & Mineral Owners Association, visit www.tlma.org.

Water issues also were addressed by Bill Hyman, executive director of the Independent Cattlemen’s Association of Texas, who discussed the Clean Water Act and other bills that will affect the everyday lives of cattlemen. See related article, page 1D.

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