Quakes rock Texas House, subcommittee formed

By Brandon Evans | Published Saturday, January 18, 2014
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Austin continues to take notice of the ground shaking in North Texas.

Thursday the chairman of the Texas House Committee on Energy Resources announced the formation of the Subcommittee on Seismic Activity. The subcommittee’s purpose is to investigate the recent rash of earthquakes occurring near areas of oil and gas production, specifically injection/disposal wells in the area of northern Parker and southern Wise counties.

The subcommittee will be chaired by Vice Chair of Energy Resources Myra Crownover (R-Denton) and will include Wise and Parker counties state Rep. Phil King (R-Weatherford) and Terry Canales (D-Edinburg) and Chris Paddie (R-Marshall).

The decision to form the subcommittee comes on the heels of local environmental activists holding a meeting in Azle Monday night. More than 300 residents from Wise and Parker counties turned out to discuss ways of how to organize and have their voices heard in the Capitol. They adopted the mantra “Shake the earth in Austin!,” which was shouted out at a prior meeting on earthquakes.

On Jan. 2, the Texas Railroad Commission, the state agency that regulates injection/disposal wells, held a town hall meeting at the Azle High School auditorium that drew almost 1,000 residents. David Johnson, a resident from south Wise County rallied the crowd when he said, “We might not get any relief right now after this meeting. But if the earth starts shaking down in Austin, baby, we’ll get some results!”

Prior to last weekend, 30 earthquakes had been registered in the area since the tremors began in early November. After several weeks of calm, the area experienced two more quakes recently – including a 2.2-magnitude shake Saturday afternoon and another registering 3.3 Monday morning, just hours before the meeting.

After the first meeting, the TRC began a search to hire a seismologist. And now, the House has created an earthquake subcommittee.

“Although seismic activity is not unheard of in North Texas, the frequency of these tremors in the Azle area is certainly a new phenomenon,” King said. “I look forward to our subcommittee’s review of the hard science as it is developed. This has been very unnerving for many in our community.”

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