West Texas Farmers And Ranchers Don’t Like This Plan To Export Water For Fracking

Our daily roundup of Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelAugust 3, 2017 11:35 am

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

A West Texas water board approved a project Wednesday that will pump water from a desert aquifer and pipe it to the Permian Basin, where it will be used in fracking operations.

Marfa Public Radio’s Carlos Morales reports the permit, approved by the Culberson County Ground Water Conservation District, allows Agua Grande to export up to 6,000 acre/feet of water per year, or roughly 1.9 billion gallons.

The unanimous vote came after packed testimony from concerned farmers, ranchers and environmentalists. The board deliberated for roughly 90 minutes before coming to their decision. Summer Webb, the general manager for the conservation board, says the move is the first time an export permit has been reviewed and approved in the district.

“Our board made it very clear that this was not an easy decision one way or another,” said Webb.

Clay Furlong, a rancher in Culberson County, says he’s concerned how the pumping could affect his land.  “Our water is everything,” says Furlong, who was one of the nearly 20 people who voiced their concern. “We water half of the ranch out of a spring, there’s no water wells.”

“I think it could easily be dried up. They’re not 10 miles from our Northern pasture.”

Agua Grande – owned by oilman Dan Allen Hughes, Jr. – intends to pipe the water nearly 60 miles northwest to the Delaware Basin where it will be used in oil and gas operations. According to the company’s application, there are approximately 20 oil and gas companies that have already expressed interest in using the water

The approved permit includes a provision to use monitor wells on the company’s property to track aquifer levels.

A Texas House committee approved a bill yesterday that would prohibit insurance companies from covering abortions. The Texas Senate already passed a similar bill.

The measure is one of 20 items included in the governor’s call for the special session.

From KUT News in Austin, Ashley Lopez notes anti-abortion activists argue that anyone who buys insurance is paying into a system that covers other people’s abortions –  that’s why activists and Gov. Greg Abbott asked Texas lawmakers to prohibit abortion coverage.

However, opponents say it will limit the ability for women to obtain this legal procedure – whether or not they have insurance – if they can’t pay for it out of pocket. Groups say a law like this will hit low-income women the hardest.

If passed, the law would apply to health insurance plans issued on or after April 1, 2018. However, it still needs to pass on the House floor.

The City of Galveston is pulling its Ford Explorers off the streets over concerns about carbon monoxide leaking into the cabins.

For the most part, it’s Galveston Police that use the vehicles.

The City of Austin also stopped using hundreds of its Explorers this week for the same reason.

Ford Motor Company suspects that extra drilling by police departments to install equipment can lead to leaks if the holes are not properly sealed.