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Justin Wasser, jwasser@earthworks.org, 202.753.7016

Washington, D.C. – Roughly 420,000 people living in Texas are being exposed to dangerous levels of oil & gas pollution by a single operator, TotalEnergies (Total), according to an on-the-ground investigation by Earthworks. The investigation, conducted from August 2023 to January 2024, is the most comprehensive study of urban fracking in Arlington, TX to date. The findings suggest TotalEnergies is contributing to the highest concentration of harm exposure from fracking anywhere in the world. The study has been released as an interactive report by Earthworks, the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), Liveable Arlington, Climate Nexus and FracTracker Alliance. 

The new report, Total Disregard, expands on the findings of this investigation to conclude Total’s responsibility for the harm is a result of two major factors: Total’s determination to site operations nearer to homes, schools and childcare centers closer than numerous scientific studies have made clear is safe, and the wide gap between operator-reported pollution risk versus the actual pollution data captured by Earthworks, satellites and others in the Barnett Shale basin.

Today, Tarrant County, where the investigation was conducted, has one of the nation’s highest rates of childhood asthma. 

“Total has fought aggressively to frack right next to daycare centers. They tell local officials their operations are clean, deny community complaints, and vastly underreport their emissions to investors and the public. They are able to do this because their pollution is invisible to the naked eye,” said Josh Eisenfeld, Earthworks Corporate Accountability Campaign Manager. “People have little option but to take TotalEnergies’ word for it. We hope this investigation gives people in Arlington another option.”

The investigation documented more than 85 pollution events coming from 24 sites all within the city limits of Arlington, Texas. At least 11 visits found pollution at operations less than 600 feet from childcare centers. There were several instances when pollution persisted over multiple visits – one site had pollution all 16 times the expert investigator visited. Of the sites visited, 75% of the fracking was taking place within 200m of homes and 54% of the sites were within 100m.

The interactive report highlights campaigns led by the community organization Liveable Arlington, which objected to permitting a heavy polluting industry so close to people, and the subsequent failure of City and state officials to protect public health. 

“In Arlington, Texas, the dangerous pollution from these wells robs our children of a healthy and livable community and contributes to multiple public health crises – with neighborhoods of color paying the highest price. The methane pollution from Totals’ reckless fracking operations in Arlington also robs children everywhere of a liveable future because of its outsized climate impact,” says Ranjana Bhandari, Founder and Executive Director of Liveable Arlington.  

“We would like the same protective setbacks for homes, daycares, and schools from fracking operations to which public health research points. Some North Texas cities have 1,500-foot setbacks, and some US states are adopting 2,500-foot setbacks. Our children’s lives matter just as much.” Ingrid Kelley, Registered Nurse & Liveable Arlington board member

Total Disregard has been made public ahead of Total’s Annual General Meeting of Shareholders putting pressure on company executives and investors to explain the gap between commitments and claims of reducing oil & gas pollution harm with persistent findings of excessive pollution. This is particularly critical due to French law requiring TotalEnergies to have a Vigilance Plan detailing reasonable measures to protect the environment and public health.

“The findings of this report, particularly the disproportionate impacts on vulnerable children and people of color, are deeply concerning,” says Nicole Lee of Miller/Howard Investments. “As an investor in TotalEnergies, we look forward to engaging the company on their operations in North Texas and call on the company to respect the human rights of the populations they are impacting.”

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