CATARINA, Texas, May 28 (UPI) -- Fracking, an oil extraction technique frowned upon by many, is creating a boon in southern Texas, and many locals say they are smiling about it.
"That's oil money," truck company manager Bert Bell said referring to a new pickup truck he purchased with part of the $525,000 earned selling mineral rights under his land to energy companies, The New York Times reported Saturday.
"Oil money just makes life easier," he said.
About a dozen companies have plans to drill 3,000 wells in the area, within the next year, the newspaper said.
Some say fracking will open up vast quantities of oil that will lessen U.S. dependence on imported petroleum.
"What if we have found three of the world's biggest oil fields in the last three years right here in the United States?" asked Chesapeake Energy Chief Executive Officer Aubrey McClendon.
Some estimate that the Eagle Ford shale oil field in Texas is one of 20 fields that could boost U.S. production by 25 percent by 2021.
The problem, many say, is that fracking involves applying pressure underground with water and hazardous chemicals to break up shale rock to make previously unreachable oil accessible. Groundwater and waste water contamination are dangers with the technique.
In Texas, "This is the biggest thing I've ever seen," said retired teacher Jose Gonzalez, 78, who has earned $127,000 from two deals involving shale oil.
"You can see I'm happy," he said.