— By CHRISTIN COYNE
AZLE - Voicing frustration and demanding answers regarding dozens of recent earthquakes in the area, more than 800 residents of Azle, Reno, Briar, and northeast Parker County showed up Thursday night to a Texas Railroad Commission town hall meeting.
During the forum attended by RRC Commissioner David Porter, many area residents were given the opportunity share their stories of how the recent swarm of earthquakes has affected them. However, the upset crowd that packed the Azle High School auditorium didn't get many answers from the state's oil and gas regulatory agency during the nearly two-hour meeting about the possible connection between injection wells and the recent seismic activity.
The town hall was intense from the start.
After the first speaker, Jim Lasater, questioned – to a round of applause from the crowd – how studies by the RRC on the issue could be unbiased given the amount the oil and gas industry donates to elected commissioners' campaigns, the crowd booed Porter's chief of staff who said the meeting was not for questions but for the RRC to listen to residents.
Many described damage to their property from earthquake after earthquake under their homes, from cracked walls, to shifting foundations and driveways, to shattered mirrors.
Several residents said they had lived in their homes for many years without foundation problems until the larger of the recent earthquakes struck.
"I've got cracks between the sheetrock in my house," Lasater said, adding that purchasing earthquake insurance was expensive.
"They shake our houses. They shake the glasses in the cabinet," Linda Hart, a resident of Wise County, said. "And we hear this loud boom. And it's very scary. I really feel like this earth has been disturbed by all this fracking and the injecting."