By CHRISTIN COYNE
The Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates the oil and gas industry in Texas and has been asked by local officials to look into whether oil and gas activity may be behind the recent swarm of earthquakes in the Parker County area, may soon ask an outside entity to study the issue.
RRC Chairman Barry Smitherman, campaigning in Weatherford Thursday for the position of Texas Attorney General, told the Democrat he was aware of the recent earthquakes in the Parker County area.
Twenty-six earthquakes have shaken North Texas since Nov. 1, including 21 in the area of Azle and Reno and three north of Mineral Wells. The earthquakes have ranged in magnitude from 2.2 to 3.7, with the latest occurring Tuesday morning.
“We’ve asked our staff to take a look at that, and they’re embarking upon that right now,” Smitherman said. “I think what we’re going to do is in the near future we’re going to have a town hall meeting here and we’ll gather more evidence and have people share their experiences with us and then we’ll probably ask, say the University of Texas’ Bureau of Economic Geology or someone else qualified and experienced, to do a study of the issue.”
“But it is something we are aware of and want to take a good look at,” Smitherman said.
At the request of Parker County commissioners, Parker County Judge Mark Riley sent a letter last week to the RRC requesting the state look into any possible connection between the earthquakes and injection wells and provide the county and general public with any information they obtain.
Southern Methodist University in Dallas is also attempting to collect better data and study the issue. The university announced this week that they are placing a variety of seismic monitoring equipment from the U.S. Geological Survey and Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology and other sources around Azle and Reno to get a better handle on where the earthquakes are occurring.
If the earthquakes are occurring near injection wells, they plan to study that potential link, according to the head of the research team.
A group of SMU and University of Texas at Austin researchers have produced two studies since 2009 indicating a possible link between the outbreaks of small earthquakes in North Texas’ Barnett Shale area since 2008 and some injection wells used to dispose of oil and gas drilling waste.
Though the USGS says studies suggest that the actual hydraulic fracturing process is rarely the direct cause of felt earthquakes, U.S. geologists say activities that have induced felt earthquakes in some geologic environments have included impoundment of water behind dams, injection of fluid into the earth’s crust, extraction of fluid or gas, and removal of rock in mining or quarrying operations.
In the south-central states of the U.S., a significant majority of recent earthquakes are thought by many seismologists to have been human-induced, according to a statement posted on the USGS website below information on the recent local earthquakes.
According to the USGS, wastewater disposal appeared to have induced the 5.6-magnitude earthquake in central Oklahoma in 2011 that damaged more than a dozen homes.
The average number of magnitude-3.0 or larger earthquakes that occurred each year from 1975 to 2008 in the Oklahoma City region was one to three, according to the team of U.S. geologists studying the issue. However, since 2009, that average has grown to around 40 earthquakes per year.
State geologists, however, disagreed. The Oklahoma Geological Survey laid out reasons they believe the earthquakes were due to natural causes.
State Rep. Phil King told the Mineral Wells Index that he was skeptical that oil and gas activity may be prompting the earthquakes.
Concerned that the environmental community would try to use the issue to shut down oil and gas production in North Texas, King said he is insistent that there be definitive scientific evidence, rather than just correlations and rhetoric.
By CHRISTIN COYNE
- Aledo ExtrA
SPRINGTOWN – After finding that a breaker manufactured by a company with a history of issues contributed to a house fire Friday, Parker County Fire Marshal Shawn Scott is urging Parker County residents with Federal Pacific Electric Stab-Lok circuit breakers to call an electrician and get them checked for safety.
Candidates have filed for city, school board elections
Filings for May 10 city and school board elections are now complete. A summary follows:
On the Aledo ISD school board incumbents David Davis, in Place 6, and Hoyt Harris, in Place 7, have both filed for re-election, each drawing one or more opponents. Farida Goderya has filed for Place 6, opposite Davis, and Riley Morrison and Debra Rogers have filed for Place 7, opposite Harris.
East Parker County Calendar of Events
The East Parker County Chamber of Commerce will welcome retired USAF SMSGT Vernon M. Anderson, Jr., senior technical instructor, Bell Helicopter, Integrated Operations Engineering Support Technical Training Department, as the key note speaker for the March 12 luncheon.
The Sunny Side
WILLOW PARK – Peppered with anecdotes from his stellar baseball career, former Texas Rangers catcher Jim Sundberg gave witness to his Christian faith and told how it changed his life before a crowd of about 200 at the recent annual Trinity Christian Academy dinner and fundraiser.
Aledo ISD approves suicide prevention program
The Aledo School Board approved the LifeLines Suicide Prevention Program in February, lining up with a recommendation from the Student Health Advisory Council, which has spent a year reviewing choices.
Aledo ISD could save up to $2 million
Expecting to save close to $2 million, Aledo ISD trustees recently voted to let district staff pull the trigger on a bank-qualified refunding of some of the district’s outstanding bonds once market conditions are optimum.
Don't feed the deer!
HUDSON OAKS — The city council recently passed an ordinance banning the feeding of deer.
Parker County Sheriff's Report Feb. 27-March 2
Burglary of a vehicle
Deputies were dispatched to the 300 block of James Street in Aledo shortly after 6 p.m. regarding the burglary of a vehicle.
ASK A MASTER GARDENER: Is it too early to start a vegetable garden?
Considering our winter temperatures this year, that’s a good question. When it comes to a successful vegetable garden, timing is everything. The goal in Texas is to have most of your vegetable crops mature before the temperatures soar in mid-summer.
EXTENSION NEWS: Getting more zzzs could help you lose some lbs.
We spend about one-third of our lifetime sleeping. Sleep is important for learning and memory. Sleep also helps our immune system to resist illness and disease, increases response times in emergencies, improves our mood and feelings of wellness and gives us the energy we need to be more active and alert.
- More Aledo ExtrA Headlines
- Breaker, breaker!