Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, December 1, 2016

Contact:  Rita Beving, Clean Water Action, (214) 557-2271
Wendy Park, Center for Biological Diversity, (510) 844-7138, 
Cyrus Reed, Sierra Club, Lone Star Chapter, (512) 740-4086

City of Corpus Christi and 3 State Lawmakers Protest BLM Oil and Gas Lease Auction 

Officials Call for Removal of Parcels Over Concerns About
Water Supply Lakes That Serve More Than 500,000 Texans

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas— The city manager of Corpus Christi and two state lawmakers who represent the region have sent letters requesting the Bureau of Land Management to remove more than 1,700 acres of public lands from a planned oil and gas lease sale. The officials cite concerns over the risk of damage to the water supply that serves more than 500,000 Texans and 18 cities.

City Manager Margie Rose, Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa and Rep. Abel Herrero each submitted letters to BLM raising concerns and requesting that three parcels underneath or near Choke Canyon Reservoir and Lake Texana be removed from the scheduled April lease auction. Choke Canyon and Lake Texana are two of three water supply lakes for the city of Corpus Christi.

Separately, Sen. Lois Kolkhorst wrote a similar letter to BLM calling for the removal of several other parcels underlying Lake Somerville in the sale, citing concerns over the effects on Lake Somerville, which provides water to her home city of Brenham.
“Local communities have been kept in the dark on these dangerous fracking plans that could increase seismic activity and threaten vital water supplies,” said Rita Beving of Clean Water Action. “Now that officials are aware of the potential risk to drinking water and dam infrastructures, they are acting to protect their residents. The BLM should heed their call and permanently remove these parcels from their upcoming auction.”

The Somerville Lake and Choke Canyon parcels are part of an April 2017 oil and gas lease auction of 3,100 acres. These parcels were originally part of a much larger 2016 auction that resulted in more than 34,000 acres of national forest land and other water supply lakes in Texas being pulled over fracking concerns. This included acreage underlying Lewisville Lake and Lake Conroe, which supply water to Dallas and Houston, respectively. Unlike the Somerville Lake and Choke Canyon parcels, however, those parcels have not been re-offered for sale. 

“The BLM needs to remove these parcels from the sale and put the health and safety of communities first, before the financial interests of the oil and gas industry,” said Wendy  Park of the Center for Biological Diversity. “It makes no sense to gamble with polluting these vital resources or adding to the increased earthquake risk associated with fracking and wastewater injection.”

“These areas include state parks and recreation areas and that serve literally thousands of Texans each year, and should not be sacrificed for further oil and gas development,” said Cyrus Reed, conservation director of the Lone Star chapter of the Sierra Club. “The BLM should listen to the officials and city and thousands of individual comments by the public and pull these leases.”
The requests come on the heels of an analysis by former senior oil and gas geologist and GIS expert Gerald Bartz that highlighted the danger increased seismic activity caused by fracking could pose on dam structures.

The Corpus Christi letters called on BLM to remove two parcels underlying Choke Canyon, totaling more than 1,600 acres, and another 153-acre parcel near Lake Texana.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.1 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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