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Earthquakes Continue In Texas, State Seismologist Testifies

Doualy Xaykaothao
Several earthquakes have rattled Azle, Reno and other areas northwest of Fort Worth.

The Texas Railroad Commission has proposed tightening regulations for injection wells as scientists explore a potential link between high-pressure wastewater disposal and the earthquakes rattling North Texas.

The oil and gas regulator's newly hired seismologist, Dr. Craig Pearson, testified Monday before a Texas House subcommittee on seismic activity that earthquakes are regularly recorded, though at magnitudes too small to be felt. An unprecedented swarm of earthquakes hit North Texas earlier this year. Several have hit Azle and Reno, which are northwest of Fort Worth.

He says the existing rules for injection wells were designed to protect against groundwater contamination, but not seismic activity.

The proposed rules include giving the Railroad Commission the authority to suspend or terminate permits for injection wells if they're believed to be causing earthquakes.

A public comment period is open until Sept. 29.

Researchers at Southern Methodist University are studying whether the seismic activity is linked to high-pressure injection wells where hydraulic fracturing fluids are disposed.

Pearson says current rules only protect against groundwater contamination.

KERA earthquake coverage

KERA has been covering the North Texas earthquake swarm. Catch up on our coverage here.