A full house of people packed city hall today (Thursday) during the Brenham City Council meeting, voicing concern over the proposed petroleum drilling at Lake Somerville.
The city council passed a resolution opposing the auction of federal property around Lake Somerville, which the Bureau of Land Management is planning to offer for oil and gas leasing.
The resolution states the loss or contamination of the fresh water supply would be catastrophic for the “residents, businesses, schools, nursing homes, and the only hospital in Brenham and Washington County.”
The resolution asks the Bureau of Land Management to pull the Lake Somerville land from the auction.
“The City Council recognizes the importance of oil and gas drilling and production activities to the economy of the State of Texas, but believes that the proposed activities must be assessed in relationship to other important Texas values such as protection of clean drinking water supplies” the resolution reads.
“They use highly toxic chemicals in their drilling process” said councilman Danny Goss. “These chemicals go down below the surface but then come back up, and where they end up is in these makeshift ponds near the drilling site” said Goss.
Sally Clinton, a representative from the local chapter of Texas Rural Voices, says it’s a risk not worth taking:
Assistant City Manager-Utilities Lowell Ogle said that while the formal protest period has ended, the council wanted to pass the resolution regardless.
“We got notification pretty late about the deadline for official protest” said Ogle. “That deadline was missed, but we want to pass a resolution by city council stating our position and to get on the record and submit it to the proper authorities.”
The notification process was another point of contention during the meeting, with many citizens asking why the formal protest period wasn’t announced.
“There’s no notification requirement” said Ogle. “We usually hear about it a week before through the grapevine.”
He went on to say that the lack of notification was an issue the city is planning to take to the “appropriate officials.”
Senator Lois Kolkhorst sent a letter to the Bureau of Land Management in November, urging the agency to postpone any decision until the citizens and local officials in the area are given the opportunity to review and comment on the proposal at a public hearing held in the local area.