LINCOLN, Neb. — The Nebraska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission will not allow residents who live more than a half-mile radius from a proposed disposal site for a Sioux City injection well to testify at a public hearing.
The Lincoln Journal Star reports that about two dozen people and corporations qualify as interested parties, and will be allowed to testify before the three-member commission on March 24. Oil and Gas Director Bill Sydow said the commission is merely following the rules by blocking some people from testifying.
“We’re going to go on the rule of law,” Sydow said. “This hearing is about the technical merits and engineering merits of this well bore. It is not about policy, because policy is set on this at the federal level.”
Ronda Rabe Hasenauer of Harrison, said in a phone interview that “They are trying to shut off the opposition.”
Terex Energy Corp., a subsidiary of Bloomfield, Colorado-based T-Rex Energy, has put an application before the commission to convert an unused oil well into an injection well to dispose of saltwater left over from hydraulic fracturing.
Opponents are concerned about the effects a spill could have on ground and surface water, as well as increased traffic on roads to the site that are near schools.
Advocacy groups Bold Nebraska and the Nebraska Sierra Club criticized the commission for not allowing more public input.
“It’s a disgrace for a public entity of our state to consider a potentially toxic proposal for our water to not allow the public to comment,” said Bold Nebraska Director Jane Kleeb. “We have open meeting laws for a reason. We have public hearings for a reason, so the public can give their input to officials they really don’t know.”
Terex’s application says that the company expects the disposal site to process 80 trucks a day hauling 130 barrels of brine for a total of 10,000 barrels of brine. Brine that naturally occurs in the ground can be brought to the surface during the fracking process.
T-Rex Energy CEO Don Walford said the site is not likely to reach that total due to a slowdown in the oil and gas industry.
“As a business we would love to do 80 trucks,” he said. “(But) oil drilling is down considerable as you probably know. There probably won’t be that much business around. We can’t even estimate now … 20 or 30 trucks, I’d be excited to get that in a day.”
Walford says that Terex has spent $1.5 million on the project so far.
Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, http://www.journalstar.com
This article was from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.