Eagle Ford Task Force Tackles Local Infrastructure Issues
AUSTIN - The Eagle Ford Task Force met in Cuero Sept. 28 to discuss the impact oil and natural gas production in the Eagle Ford Shale is having on local community infrastructure. The task force announced today its adoption of several advisements related to truck traffic and pipeline development.
The rapid increase in truck traffic on local roads in the Eagle Ford Shale region has led to the deterioration of roads and an enhanced concern for public safety. The 24-member task force, created by Railroad Commissioner David Porter, listened to presentations and concerns from the Texas Department of Transportation, the Association of Energy Service Companies, the Texas Motor Transportation Association and the general public in an effort to determine solutions.
“We are seeing an overwhelming increase in traffic in these small communities and citizens are concerned,” said Commissioner Porter. “So we brought together the trucking industry, oil and gas industry, state and local government and the general public to engage in a productive dialogue, and as a result, we were able to come up with real, tangible solutions.”
Also on the task force agenda was pipeline infrastructure. Currently several billion dollars worth of pipeline projects are under development in the region, and local communities have expressed concern with how the development of these massive projects will affect them. Representatives from pipeline companies and legal experts addressed the task force, detailing impending projects and outlining their commitment to partnering with local governments and communities.
“The construction of a 20-inch crude oil line running 50 miles through a county can take the place of 1,250 tank truck trips per day, so it is imperative that we get these pipes in the ground; however, we must ensure local communities are protected” said Porter. “Our task force members, including representatives of pipeline companies, have agreed upon guidelines that will hold the pipeline industry accountable.”
Finally, the task force addressed the housing issue currently facing the region. The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs spoke about the many programs they offer to combat rent increases and displaced families. Private developer, Bob Zacaraiah, also spoke about what local governments and communities can do to spur more private investment in the region. Several task force members expressed their desire to see builders develop more permanent housing, to foster community building, rather than temporary housing fixes.
As a result, the task force adopted the following advisements:
- The placement of pipelines should avoid steep hillsides and watercourses where feasible.
- Pipeline routes should take advantage of road corridors to minimize surface disturbance.
- When clearing is necessary, the width disturbed should be kept to a minimum and topsoil material should be stockpiled to the side because retaining topsoil for replacement during reclamation can significantly accelerate successful revegetation.
- Proximity to buildings or other facilities occupied or used by the public should be considered. Particular consideration should be given to homes.
- Unnecessary damage to trees and other vegetation should be avoided.
- After installation of a new line, all rights-of-way should be restored to conditions compatible with existing land use.
- The task force supports trucking companies partnering with the Texas Department of Public Safety to develop a program that would alert companies when their drivers receive moving violations or drivers license suspensions.
- The task force supports the creation of road use agreements or trucking plans between operators and local authorities. These agreements could include parameters such as:
- Operators must avoid peak traffic hours, school bus hours and community events.
- Operators must establish overnight quiet periods.
- Operators must ensure adequate off-road parking and delivery areas at all sites to avoid lane/road blockage.
David J. Porter was elected to the Texas Railroad Commission on November 2, 2010. A Certified Public Accountant and successful small business owner, Commissioner Porter has worked with oil and gas producers for nearly three decades providing strategic financial advice and tax counsel. He has a long record of pro-business, free market, conservative credentials.