School is usually a place where children go to learn. But in one Texas district, school is also a place children go to get sick.
Located on a figurative gold mine over the gas-rich Barnett Shale formation, the Argyle Independent School District leased its land in 2008 to drilling companies itching to tap deposits beneath and around its land.
In March, the Argyle Town Council approved the final permits—even as some members stood to gain financially by also leasing their own land. Since drilling began near Argyle High School, the school has taken in more than half a million dollars.
But while that money may be used to pay teachers' salaries and run down a district deficit, the payoff for students is far less clear.
Kids are now reporting asthma, nosebleeds, dizziness, disorientation, nausea and noxious smells, according to The Denton Record-Chronicle.
Now, a local activist organization, the Argyle-Bartonville Communities Alliance, has organized in the last year to collect health data and raise awareness in the parent community.
The drilling of dozens more gas wells is already set to proceed on two sites within a half-mile of not only the high school but also the intermediate school and the elementary school as well.
Argyle, of course, isn't the only community or school district experiencing the health effects of drilling in Texas or, for that matter, in Pennsylvania or Wyoming, or other states where the shale gas boom has marched forward largely unchecked.
Tell the Argyle Town Council and School Board to protect its children, not its bank accounts. The school needs to document and publicize every single cough and every single dizziness attack, so that environmental regulators can't ignore what's happening in Argyle. The Argyle-Bartonville Communities Alliance wants to halt this unsafe drilling and shouldn’t be forced to take on multi-billion dollar gas corporations on its own.
The school and town should be fighting for its children's welfare, not the welfare of its bank balance.
I recently read about the serious health concerns being experienced by your students ever since Hillwood and Williams Production began drilling exploratory wells with the blessing of the school district and the town council.
School should be a place where children go to learn, not to get sick.
I may not live in your school district, but I support the work of the Argyle-Bartonville Community Alliance, and ask that you do everything in your power to address their concerns.
While you may not be able to stop the drilling at this juncture, you can make sure that the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is aware of every single cough and every single dizziness attack. You can also make sure to take emergency precautions, properly inform parents of the risks, and publicize the risks to other schools near drilling sites.