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As Seismic Activity Mounts, Texas Ignores Connection to Drilling

A map from a study by University of Texas scientist Cliff Frohlich shows the proximity of injection wells to earthquakes near  DFW airport in 2009. Source: National Research Council.
A map from a study by University of Texas scientist Cliff Frohlich shows the proximity of injection wells to earthquakes near DFW airport in 2009. Source: National Research Council.

Energy Wire:

Nine months after a National Academy of Sciences panel said oil and gas regulators should take steps to prevent man-made earthquakes, officials in key states are ignoring quake potential as they rewrite their drilling rules.

Two major drilling states, California and Texas, are overhauling their drilling rules without looking at the seismic risks linked to deep injection of drilling and hydraulic fracturing wastewater. New York regulators dismissed earthquake concerns in their drawn-out process of updating drilling rules.

Texas has had some of the best-documented seismic activity around brine wells. Researchers have linked injection to earthquakes in the Haynesville Shale in east Texas and the Barnett Shale in the Dallas area. Chesapeake Energy Corp. shut down two wells linked to quakes near the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport.

The Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates oil and gas production, is doing a large-scale revision of its rules without looking at man-made earthquakes.

“The geology of states vary greatly, and Texas has a long history of safe injection,” said Gaye McElwain, spokeswoman for the Texas Railroad Commission, which oversees oil and gas, not trains. “Our staff also are closely following various studies that are being conducted to determine possible man-made causes of recent seismic events.”

(h/t Texas Sharon)