RRC’s dog-and-pony show has no answers

By Tracy A. Smith | Published Saturday, January 4, 2014

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I attended the big town hall with the Railroad Commission on Jan. 2 in Azle. Apparently, the shake, rattle and roll that we feel here in Wise County may or may not be related to the large number of deep well injection bores located in the Barnett Shale production area, according to the delegation from the Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC).

I was unable to speak due to the meeting being cut off, but after listening to the speakers, I have some serious concerns about fissures that are occurring between the injection zones and the water tables as a result of the seismic activities. Even if no other major vibrations occur, the damage is done. This was something I was going to speak on if allowed.

Many residents who are impacted are concerned about surface issues. Some are concerned about the water issue. Most do not connect the two issues or understand that both are affected by the earth tremors – but they are indeed related.

I also don’t buy the excuse from the RRC delegation – which included one elected state commissioner and various directors within the regulatory commission – that no conclusive studies have been done and that they would have to do them first.

Even Phil King made a predictable statement via an aide to give his two cents backing the RRC and giving yet another opinion on how hydrocarbon production is important above all in Texas, without having to answer his constituents’ questions. The whole dog-and-pony show was a joke and full of complete lies.

In fact, in an accredited report done by the University of California geological department to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (and on file in the Library of Congress, something every official on that stage has access to) clearly comes to the conclusion that there is notable and increased seismic activity in and around deep well injection bores and facilities.

Since then, several independent studies done by various independent groups have been conducted that have come to the same or similar conclusions (I Googled those studies). It’s unfortunate that in recent history, Texas officials refuse to cooperate with anything that the federal EPA has as resources or discounts them entirely altogether because of partisan politics.

The RRC delegation’s appearance in North Texas has reinforced this taxpayer’s belief that instead of being beholden to the citizens of the state by bringing good thoughtful answers to the many concerns of Texas citizens, they came instead to find out what we might know.

The state regulatory commission has failed to protect us. They failed us by being unprepared with answers or assurances, and finally, they failed us by not looking at the various studies before they began permitting the abundant amount of Class II commercial deep well injection locations in and around the rural Barnett Shale counties.

So … why the failure by these elected officials at the RRC and state representatives? Which greater public interest are they considering, the people’s or for-profit industry?

What kind of proactive incentives (laws) will be encouraged (made) at the state level toward conservation, desalinization and/or other alternative uses by other industries? If they would do this, the need for disposal wells would decrease.

My biggest fear is that our officials are in a reactive mode because the damage has already been done and this is the reason for the apathy at this meeting. In this case, one has to wonder how the hell we are going to clean this mess up and who will pay for it.

I think the delegation left with a great sigh of relief that no one asked or addressed the water table issues. It’s my prediction that the RRC will appease the “angry and outraged” public with rules such as a limit to the barrels per day injected in Parker County wells and pacify the people with a temporary moratorium on issuing any new permits within the county until further studies are done.

All this will allow this issue to die until the next earthquake. In the meantime, we must prepare to fight with our insurance companies who won’t cover earthquakes. We’re on our own.

Tracy A. Smith

2 Responses to “RRC’s dog-and-pony show has no answers”

  1. Jim Popp says:

    As a Conservative myself Tracy, and even though you are a Democrat, we are friends and I am in complete agreement with you and what you have stated here. Wise County citizens need to WAKE UP NOW and smell the roses so we AND our future generations will have enough CLEAN fresh water and can live safely, without fear of repercussions from the injection wells that Texas and Wise County officials are allowing to be permitted today and in the past! If we as Texas and Wise County citizens don’t put down our political differences, for the betterment of all over this issue,then we, our children, and our grandchildren will most certainly pay the price for our ignorance and stupidy! Drill here, drill now, but let’s do it in a SAFE MANNER FOR ALL! Eliminate Injection Wells that are nothing but TOXIC WASTE PITS and demand a desalinization process be used in ALL DRILLING IN TEXAS! We can save millions and millions of gallons PER WELL of fresh water wasted too by recycling already used water through the desalinization process! DEVON IS PROOF POSITIVE IT WORKS!

  2. Skip Nichols says:

    Some things never change. The Railroad Commission is and always has been, a political tool of the oil and gas industry.


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