N. Texas Residents Discuss Seismic Events With Texas RR Commission

North Texas residents pleaded their case to the Texas Railroad Commission in Austin Tuesday, asking for a moratorium on injection wells that are used to store waste water from hydraulic fracturing. The residents, who live in or near Azle, Texas, told commissioners about their concerns following a recent spate of seismic activity that the residents say was caused by the injection of fracking water into underground storage facilities. However, the residents went home disappointed, according to the Austin Star-Telegram.

The meeting was a follow-up to an earlier meeting Jan. 2, when the Texas Railroad Commission traveled to Azle to talk about the concerns of the residents regarding the rise in seismic activity.

While seismic activity in North Texas has residents concerned, the commission maintained that the injection wells are being utilized within approved limits, and that other factors, such as a lowering of the water levels at Eagle Mountain Lake that was caused by recent droughts, were more likely to have been responsible for the rise in seismic activity in recent months, the Dallas Business Journal reported.

Following the meeting with the residents from Azle, the three-member Texas Railroad Commission – the Texas entity that regulates the state’s oil and gas industry – remained unconvinced that a link between fracking and seismic activity had been established, according to the Star-Telegram. However, the commission did note during the 3-hour meeting that if the injection wells were shut down, there would be no natural gas production, since there was no economic way to recycle waste water, the Star-Telegram said.

Since Nov. 1, there have been more than 30 seismic events in Texas, the CBS affiliate in Dallas-Fort Worth said, and several Azle residents discussed the damage to homes and buildings caused by seismic activity, as well as possible effects on the integrity of the dam at Eagle Mountain Lake.

Texas Railroad Commissioner Barry Smitherman told the residents that the commission’s options were limited, and that the commission asked the Texas Legislature for greater authority to rule on matters like the disposal wells, according to the Dallas Business Journal. However, the commission said it was in the process of hiring a seismologist to interpret the data from the reports.

While Azle residents made little headway with the Texas Railroad Commission regarding a moratorium on injecting waste water into underground disposal storage units, the environmental community recently pushed for a ban on fracking in Massachusetts, the Boston Business Journal reported.


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