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Why was Eagle Ford Shale in the news?

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Quick Answer

The Eagle Ford Shale in south Texas made news in late July 2014 when county judges questioned the right of state agencies to reap the benefits of oil and gas leases that utilize ground under county roads. There is no law on the books that prevents Texas from taking all the mineral rights, but an opinion of a state attorney general in 1960 is the basis of the state's behavior.

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Judges in several counties above the Eagle Ford Shale area are attempting to persuade state lawmakers to change the law. As of July 2014, the state requires counties to maintain roads under which oil companies are exploiting resources and paying money to the state. One example is DeWitt County, a locality with a road maintenance budget of $1.7 million in 2011, but that number swelled to $16 million in 2014. The county planned to pay for maintenance using royalties collected from oil and gas companies that have yet to arrive from state coffers.

The Eagle Ford Shale is an area underneath Texas approximately 50 miles wide, 400 miles long and 250 feet thick. Oil and gas are about 4,000 to 12,000 feet beneath the surface. Since 2008, the Eagle Ford Shale has become one of the most-drilled sites in the United States. The area is located near the Mexican border, and it stretches into south-central Texas. Oil formed there due to an ancient forest that collapsed and became buried 100 million years ago.

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