At the announcement Tuesday of the creation of the seismologist position, some Azle-area residents expressed concern a Texas Railroad Commission-employed seismologist, rather than an independent scientist, could face political or oil-and-gas-industry pressure regarding research on the issue.
“The commission bases its regulatory on actions and rules on sound science and proven facts,” Nye said in a statement responding to the concerns.
A spokesman for the Bureau of Economic Geology, a research unit at the University of Texas in Austin and the state geological survey, confirmed Monday that the bureau is currently putting together a proposal to study the Azle-area earthquakes to submit to the Texas Railroad Commission.
However, it’s not clear when the proposal will be presented to the commission or what the study is expected to cover.
Inspection of additional area injection wells was scheduled for later in the week, Nye wrote Wednesday.
The Texas Railroad Commission inspected two northern Parker County injection wells in late November and early December, according to records obtained by the Democrat.
One, referenced by at least one resident during the Texas Railroad Commission town hall last week, is operated by XTO Energy and is located off Knob Hill Road. The other, a commercial disposal well operated by Bridgeport Tank Trucks LLC, is located off FM Road 51 south of Springtown.
No violations were noted at either location.
At XTO’s well, an employee reportedly told the inspector that he had not felt any of the quakes.
A spokeswoman for XTO Energy told the Democrat the company’s injection well, identified by the USGS as located in the area of the earthquakes, is still active and operating as usual.
“XTO and Exxon Mobil are working with seismic experts, as well as state and local officials, to study the situation,” Suann Lundsberg said, adding that their injection well was one of eight injection wells identified by the USGS in the area.
A group calling for additional oversight and regulation of the oil and gas industry, including Earthworks’ Oil & Gas Accountability Project, North Central Texas Communities Alliance and former mayor of Dish, Calvin Tillman, has scheduled a public meeting for Monday in Azle.