State Rep. Myra Crownover, R-Denton, will lead a new House subcommittee to investigate earthquakes in oil and gas regions.
House Energy Resources Committee Chairman Jim Keffer, R-Eastland, set up the team Thursday, naming three Republicans and one Democrat to the “Subcommittee on Seismic Activity.”
Residents in and around Reno and Azle in Parker County have been troubled by a recent spate of earthquakes near injection wells in their area, with the largest of nearly 30 earthquakes since November measuring 3.7 magnitude. Hundreds of residents have attended public meetings in recent weeks, and some have reported damage to buildings that includes cracks in floors and walls.
The legislative committee that drafts the laws that regulate the oil and gas industry joins the Texas Railroad Commission, which announced it will hire a seismologist, in examining why there has been a rash of small earthquakes near oil and gas drilling or sites where companies use injection wells to dispose of contaminated water.
Crownover called the issue “brand new” and one that posed an excellent question.
“We need to talk about this and go in with our eyes wide open,” Crownover said. “Oil and gas are so important to Texas, but our clean water, clean air and safety are important, too.”
Crownover said the committee does not yet have concrete plans, but she expects it will begin planning the calendar within the next week. The committee will likely hear testimony from the Railroad Commission, the University of Texas at Austin Bureau of Economic Geology and national experts, she said.
“We’ll have access to top-of-the-line information,” Crownover said. “We’ll go at it with an intensity and an open mind.”
Oil and gas companies have said their actions are not responsible for the temblors.