Legislators push RR Commission to take charge

05/16/2014 6:28 PM

05/16/2014 6:29 PM

Earlier this week, the Texas House Subcommittee on Seismic Activity told the Railroad Commission something its members should already know by now: it’s time for some precise findings on what is causing the earthquakes in Tarrant and Parker Counties.

Since last November, things have been a bit shaky in Azle and Reno, as a series of small tremors rolled through the area.

While no significant quakes have been reported since January, there is still understandable concern among area residents who feel efforts to pinpoint and address the earthquakes’ causes have been shallow.

The Railroad Commission regulates the state’s oil and gas industry, and Monday’s House subcommittee hearing set out to consider exactly what role that industry might be playing in the recent seismic activity in North Texas, and what might be done in response.

These are questions to which many, including Reno Mayor Lynda Stokes, believe there are obvious answers. And she contends that the state has the information it needs to act.

But Craig Pearson, the newly-hired seismologist who went to work for the Railroad Commission just last month, was equivocal. He testified that he “hopes” to have “a definitive statement” regarding the source of quakes within a year. At that point, the state could determine what regulatory changes might be needed.

That’s not exactly a consolation for those who are living with constant anxiety that the earth will move again — and not in a good way.

Azle Mayor Alan Brundrett said that the experience of the people in Azle could be summed up in one word: frustration, adding “Everyone seems genuinely concerned, but there is a disconnect among the various stakeholders.”

Those stakeholders include legislators, geologists, state regulators, private industry and the people of North Texas.

The frustration is likely to continue until the commission returns its findings. But it is encouraging to see legislators pushing that body to take charge and keep the trains moving.

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