Weatherford Democrat

January 30, 2014

Fire water

Man invites public to his home Saturday to show how water burns


Weatherford Democrat

— By CHRISTIN COYNE

A Parker County man known for lighting his well water on fire is opening his home to the public Saturday.

Steve Lipsky, who believes a Range Resources gas well and fracking led to contamination of his and other neighbors’ water wells, has invited area residents from Azle to Lake Granbury to come to the “Light My Fire Open House” at his home at 127 River Oak Court in the Silverado on the Brazos neighborhood from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Following the open house is scheduled a “Flaming Faucet Fundraiser” featuring State Rep. Lon Burnam and “Gasland” movie director Josh Fox appearing via Skype from 6-8 p.m. Reservations for the fundraiser are required and can be done online at www.eventbrite.com/directory.

Lipsky has spent years involved in a legal battle with Range Resources, which claims the water contamination is naturally occurring and similiar to gas reported at other area wells over the past several decades. Range Resources is suing Lipsky, alleging Lipsky conspired against the company, something Lipsky denies.

Lipsky said he wants people to know the truth about what has happened in his neighborhood over the past several years.

Lipsky first complained to the Texas Railroad Commission 2010 about his water and then the EPA when he believed the RRC was not acting fast enough. After hearing from Range Resources during a hearing that neither Lipsky nor the EPA participated in, the RRC found that the contamination was not caused by Range Resources. The EPA later dropped action against Range, with an internal audit later finding that the agency did so because it was worried about the costs of the case, as well as the legal risks to future actions if a judge decided against them.

In 2012, a Parker County district judge, who had earlier ruled that Lipsky couldn’t sue Range Resources for the alleged contamination of his well due to a quirk in Texas law, found that a video recorded by Lipsky and published on YouTube of flaming gas vented from the well through a garden hose was “deceptive” and “calculated to alarm the public into believing that the water was burning.”

However, Lipsky said the judge was only shown an edited version of the video during a hearing and the video he released was not deceptive.

After referencing the case in election materials and statements during a failed reelection bid, District Judge Trey Loftin later recused himself from the ongoing case. 

Though Range Resources says their testing shows the gas in the water wells is not at dangerous levels, Lipsky has since demonstrated for news crews and others that his water can be ignited and research from independent researchers from Duke University has found explosive levels of gas in multiple area wells.

A researcher from Duke University is expected to later release his study of the issue.

Another researcher, Geoffrey Thyne, who initially studied the issue for the EPA and later further analyzed the data he was provided, recently told the AP he was more convinced after isotopic analysis that the gas originates from the Barnett shale and is identical to gas found in the company’s well.

Three of his neighbors have water that is even more contaminated than his own, according to Lipsky.

Lipsky said he is not anti-fracking and believes that stopping all fracking would hurt the local economy.

However, Lipsky said he does want fracking to be done in a more responsible manner.