Fracking Fact-Finding Mission

New study links declining North Texas ozone to oil and gas production

New study links declining North Texas ozone to oil and gas production

Smog in Dallas, Texas
A committee with the North Central Texas Council of Governments is developing an anti-smog plan for Dallas-Fort Worth. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

An independent researcher has found evidence of ill effects of fracking in the Barnett Shale that challenges optimistic claims from government officials.

Mahdi Ahmadi, a University of North Texas graduate student, pored over more millions of data points from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to determine if there is a link between declining ozone and oil and gas production.

As first reported by the Denton Record-Chronicle, Ahmadi's research shows that areas where oil and gas is extracted have higher ozone increase than areas without fracking. Ahmadi's findings directly contradict the TCEQ's assertion that Barnett Shale mining has no significant impact on local ozone levels.

 Mahdi Ahmadi's findings directly contradict reports from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

Ahmadi's findings follow a March report by Rachel Rawlins at the University of Texas at Austin, which connected fracking in Flower Mound to a local childhood cancer cluster.

To determine his ozone findings, Ahmadi and his faculty advisor used the commission's own database and examined over 6.5 million data points on air quality.

After controlling for weather conditions, a trend emerged connecting worse ozone quality and oil and gas production in the Barnett Shale. The commission maintains that the increased fracking wells in North Texas have no significant effect on the ozone.

Thanks to efforts from Downwinders at Risk and Rep. Lon Burnam (D-Fort Worth), the public will get its first glimpse of the new and contradictory research. The results will be presented at an air quality committee meeting in Arlington on April 17. The committee is developing an anti-smog plan for Dallas-Fort Worth.

"This is a small but important victory for real science in this process, as opposed to the completely politicized approach by TCEQ to prevent the imposition of new controls of any kind," Jim Schermbeck with Downwinders at Risk said in a statement. "Citizens are going to have to be more vigilant in this process if they want cleaner air."