I have been informed that Phil King, because of his service to the oil and gas industry on the Energy Resources Committee, has been named to the new subcommittee to investigate the plague of earthquakes affecting Wise, Parker and Tarrant Counties.
One can’t help but wonder, why him? He failed the people of his district once already. How can he be trusted to be a champion to them now?
In February of 2013, Rep. King was a guest panel member, along with State Senators Rodney Ellis and Carlos Uresti and State Rep. Van Taylor, on a discussion forum titled “Drilling Down: The Fracking Boom and the Texas Legislature” that was sponsored by StateImpact Texas (an NPR program).
This program was held in Austin, well outside Mr. King’s district. On the event Facebook page this symposium was described as “…a conversation with several state lawmakers to examine the Texas oil and gas boom. We’ll talk about how it has impacted different parts of the state and what role lawmakers could play in this rapid increase in drilling.” (wcmess.com/y)
In a video posted of the event (wcmess.com/e) Phil King was caught saying some shocking things when asked about earthquakes and industry-related practices such as fracking and deep well disposal.
After he corrected the moderator that they weren’t earthquakes but rather seismic activities, he said, “The good news is nobody’s felt it, there hasn’t been any damage we have some time to kind of look at it.”
Then after a jab from another panel member about the seismic activity/earthquake definition which King just made, king said, “If you’re getting a (oil and gas) royalty check, its probably ‘seismic activity.’ I take that to mean campaign contributions as well, don’t you? After a semantic debate of the meaning over the two words, it was later confirmed by a reputable geologist that the two words were synonymous in this context.
In addition, Mr. King was informed that decades ago, researchers even found they could turn earthquakes on and off by injecting liquid into the ground, with information provided by Dr. William Ellsworth with the Earthquake Science Center of the U.S. Geological Survey.
To make matters worse, the Texas Railroad Commission was aware of this study as well. The StateImpact filed an open records request for all emails pertaining to the earthquakes and received over 100 emails as a response where they accept what scientists and oilmen have known for many years – that the earthquakes and injection wells are related.
These emails even show staff members in communication with EPA researchers over certain quakes in the DFW area. The messages also include forwards of media reporting on earthquakes and notes of concern from Texas citizens. To reiterate, all of this thoroughly researched information was presented to Mr. King on the above mentioned February 2013 night.
Bottom line is that our state representative, Phil King, was warned almost a year before the Azle/Boyd area earthquakes that started in October and November of 2013, that the fracking process and injection wells did indeed cause earthquakes. Mr. King let a year go by, including a legislative session where he was on the Energy Resources Committee and could have put forth a bill for stronger regulation of injection wells.
He let his own people live with a ticking time bomb. Now he’s in reactive mode that will take at least another year before he will begin to give answers to his constituents. What answers will they be?
We, victims, here in North Texas are counting on some “people” results. Is Phil King the guy who will look into the eyes of our affected men, women, children and elderly – living with anguish and hopelessness while begging for answers and assurances that they won’t lose all that they have – and say “I understand and I’m on your side?”
Will he be the leader for us that will take a moment of his time to feel our fear? I think not. For me, he’s already proven himself.