As Ea­gle Ford spurs jobs, cau­tion also urged

Panel weighs im­pact of shale project on re­gion

Houston Chronicle - - THE CITY & STATE - By VICKI VAUGHAN STAFF WRITER vvaughan@ex­

SAN AN­TO­NIO — The Ea­gle Ford shale al­ready has brought 5,000 jobs to San An­to­nio, and former Mayor Henry Cis­neros of­fered a new ex­pec­ta­tion Tues­day, say­ing the oil and gas de­vel­op­ment likely will bring a to­tal of 10,000 jobs to the city within three years.

Ten­t­hou­sand job­swould have twice the eco­nomic ef­fect of the Toy­ota pickup plant and its sup­pli­ers, he said, even as he sought to tamp down en­thu­si­asm a bit.

“We must guard against ir­ra­tional ex­u­ber­ance. When you have a wind­fall, it’s not wise to blow it,” said Cis­neros, chair­man of the San An­to­nio Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Foun­da­tion, who spoke at a panel dis­cus­sion spon­sored by the San An­to­nio Clean Tech­nol­ogy Fo­rum.

“We could do real dam- age if we don’t do this in a bal­anced, se­ri­ous way, be­cause when the boom men­tal­ity takes over, there can be a ten­dency to rush past the safe­guards,” he said. Shale de­vel­op­ment “can be dam­ag­ing to the environmen­t, to the land, the water or to the com­mu­nity in the long run.

We don’t want ev­ery­one to get in that mode of ir­ra­tional ex­u­ber­ance where the mo­men­tum over­rides good judg­ment.”

The seven other pan­elists at Tues­day’s event agreed with Cis­neros that de­vel­op­ment of Ea­gle Ford must be done re­spon­si­bly.

The heart of the shale play lies un­der 22 South Texas coun­ties and is re­garded as one of the top two or three plays in the na­tion.

Drilling per­mits in the Ea­gle Ford have jumped from 26 in 2008 to 2,991 in early Novem­ber, ac­cord­ing to Texas Rail­road Com­mis­sion data.

“This is the kind of mo­ment that only comes once a cen­tury,” Mayor Julián Cas­tro said in greet­ing those who at­tended the fo- rum. He said that the Ea­gle Ford prom­ises to trans­form Texas in the same way that Spindle­top did.

Drew Nel­son, clean en­ergy project man­ager at the En­vi­ron­men­tal De­fense Fund, said his or­ga­ni­za­tion is con­cerned about the quan­ti­ties of water used in drilling and hy­draulic frac­tur­ing.

His or­ga­ni­za­tion is work­ing on ways to min­i­mize leaks that could con­tam­i­nate water.

In some shale plays, in­clud­ing the Mar­cel­lus in the North­east, heavy truck traf­fic is the No. 1 com­plaint, Nel­son said. “Now is the time to get every­thing right,” he said.

Nus­tar En­ergy CEO Curt Anas­ta­sio said more pipe­lines are be­ing built in the shale. That will re­duce truck traf­fic and air emis­sions from trucks.

“Pipe­lines are safer than trucks or ships,” said Anas­ta­sio, whose San An­to­nio-based com­pany owns pipe­lines, stor­age and re­finer­ies.

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