"AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas allowed the drilling of oil and natural gas injection wells in some areas near drinking water sources starting more than three decades ago, but state regulators recently assured the federal government the effort posed "little to no risk" to the subterranean reserves, according to a report released Friday.
Clean Water Action, an environmental advocacy group, contends in its report that the nation's top oil-producing state doesn't really know how many injection wells are affecting drinking water or the full impact. That's because the state still hasn't properly implemented federal aquifer safeguards, 34 years after telling the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that it would do so, the group said.
"We actually don't know the full extent of the problem," said John Noel, primary author of the report. "They've permitted tens of thousands of injection wells without following federal guidelines."
Injection wells take various forms and are used for production and waste disposal in oilfields. In addition to exploratory drilling, oil producing operations can produce large amounts of briny fluid and other waste, and oilfield operators often dispose of the waste by injecting it back underground."