Natural-gas drilling booms in Fort Worth

Forth Worth, Texas, lies atop a huge natural-gas field, and thus is at the center of the biggest urban drilling boom in the U.S. today. The city has leased more than 2,400 acres of public land for natural-gas development; over 600 wells have cropped up in the last year alone, and, says Mayor Mike Moncrief, “we’ve only just started.” It’s an economic jackpot for some Fort Worth residents and groups — the American Cancer Society sold mineral rights to donated land for $5 million, and the Girl Scouts allowed drilling under a summer camp for an undisclosed amount. While residents have been assured that they’re unlikely to even be aware of the excavation happening under their land — thanks to new technologies, holes can be dug as much as a mile away and drills can go in horizontally thousands of feet under the earth — some are worried about explosions, accidents, noise pollution, and exploitation. But for many, particularly in poorer neighborhoods, signing bonuses and promises of ongoing royalties outweigh the risks.