If you’ve been through Balmorhea in recent months, and certainly if you live there, you’ve probably noticed a couple new drilling rigs in the area.
Oil and gas drilling has historically tended to stay away from the immediate area around the town, with a more active industry presence near Pecos, Midland and Odessa, but since late last year, the industry’s shown more interest in Balmorhea.
With that in mind, a group of researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington are hoping to travel to Balmorhea to sample the area’s environmental quality and establish baseline environmental data from their findings, the idea being that if or when more drilling moves in, there will be data for tracking how (or if) the environment is changed because of industry.
Dr. Zacariah Hildenbrand is one of the founders of the group, called the Collaborative Laboratories for Environmental Analysis and Remediation (CLEAR).
He joined us to talk about the project’s goals, what exactly it’s hoping to learn about the area’s environment, the inherent risks of oil and gas activity, and how an academic group like CLEAR stays objective when dealing with an extremely polarizing issue.