© 2020 Texas Public Radio
Real. Reliable. Texas Public Radio.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Environment

Texas Railroad Commission Introduces New Rules For Fracking Injection Wells

natural_gas_fracking_flickr-user-daniel_foster.jpg
Flickr user Daniel Foster
/
cc

A seismologist for the Texas Railroad Commission updated the Texas House Energy Resources Committee about the findings of a study on the number of earthquakes occurring near fracking injection well sites.

The Texas Railroad commission is considering tougher rules on the natural gas fracking industry and hired seismologist Dr. Craig Peterson to examine the hundreds of earthquakes occurring in the North Texas cities of Azle and Reno. Peterson told the committee that fracking isn’t the problem, it’s the design of the pressurized injection wells where the muddy fracking water is dumped.

“We believe that it’s that change -- it’s that change in pressure -- that’s affecting existing faults in the earth that’s allowing them to move and cause earthquakes,” Peterson said.

The proposed new rules that are up for public comment would require heightened monitoring of energy companies, which could lead to the termination of certain wells.

"Staff could go to the operator and say, 'We need you to modify the operation, we need you to suspend operation, or we need to terminate operations because we believe they are causing seismic activity,' ” Peterson said.

Peterson said they would review each injection well on a case-by-case basis and give Texas Railroad Commission review staff the authority to act. The commission will consider adopting these new set of rules in about a month.