The city’s ETJ is territory that lies within half a mile outside the city limits of Karnes City. Within the city’s ETJ, a permit for the creation of an injection well in an area approximately 500 yards outside the city limits of Karnes City, off of FM 1353, has been put forth.
An injection well is a deep, underground solid walled pipe deposit area used for the purpose of disposing certain types of wastewater properly. In the case of injection wells in the Karnes County area, trucks loaded with wastewater that is a by-product of fracking, and is contaminated by fracking chemicals, inject the wastewater into the injection wells. Many in the oil and gas industry deem injection wells necessary for the work going on in Karnes County relating to the Eagle Ford Shale.
During the public comments segment, five residents strongly expressed to the council their concerns and opinions relating to issues of traffic safety, health, and environment quality, among others, in voicing their opposition to the specific injection well location that that is planned within the ETJ near FM 1353.
The residents asked the council for any and all help in stopping the injection well. The residents also have an attorney to represent them in their fight to get the Texas Railroad Commission to deny the permit, along with other legal matters relating to that specific goal.
“My main concern is that we have too many things right there,” said Karnes City ETJ resident Cheryl Moy as she addressed the council regarding the injection well location. “These injection wells are necessary for what’s going on in our environment right now, but they need to be strategically placed. They need to be placed where they are away from things. There are two churches close to there. There are also residential areas there, and there is a day care as well. It’s a cause of great concern.”
Moy cited the safety concern of increased traffic of big trucks and the increased propensity for accidents in the area, along with other environmental concerns. Moy also related how the injection well would thwart future residential expansion and growth to the area.
“There is plenty of land in this county out of the way for people to put these injection wells on,” continued Moy. “They do not need to be put in our ETJ right there. I don’t know what you can do, or if it’s too late to do something. I am here to ask you for your support to help us try to do something positive. We want to keep our people healthy, our children healthy, and we want to cut down on these accidents. We don’t need it there.”
The city council agreed with the residents and stated their desire and intent to help stop the injection well. According to city officials, the city has very limited authority and power to stop the injection well outright, as the site for the well is outside of the corporate city limits of Karnes City, and also being that the final authority lies with the Texas Railroad Commission.
The council unanimously approved a resolution in support of the resident’s opposition to the injection well.
“A resolution is usually an outward sign of a council’s or entity’s position and posture,” explained Mayor Don Tymrak after the meeting. “We will pass a strong resolution, and we’ll have our attorney write it with strong language of our opposition to that (injection well), whereas it is not conducive to developing a neighborhood in our ETJ, among other factors”
Tymrak related that the city will do what it can with the limited jurisdiction and authority the city has in the case. Tymrak noted that the railroad commission will look at the facts of the case and not necessarily the emotions behind it, and at the end the commission will look to see if there are strong facts and evidence that the well is indeed bad for the ETJ.
“We will develop a strong resolution and send it to the railroad commission,” said Tymrak. “This is our formal and official voice. It doesn’t carry any weight of law, it can’t make them do anything. It just says we feel strongly about this and are committed to oppose this. The second thing is to have our attorney get with their attorney to bring up a case that we can make to the railroad commission, a strategy we can employ to try to get their attention to consider rejecting the permit.”
The concerned residents plan to attend a public hearing the Texas Railroad Commission will hold on Dec. 13 in Austin in order to hear the injection well case. The meeting is to present the railroad commission with documentation in protest of and to request a withdrawal of the permit for the injection well at the ETJ location; or to move the injection well to a more suitable location. Certain Karnes City officials are planning to attend as well in support of the ETJ residents.