The Texas Tea Party likes to shout local control and government overreach from the rooftops when it fears the federal government stepping on Texans’ toes. But when it comes to serving the interests of big oil, the Tea Partisans cannot fall over themselves fast enough to do its bidding. This time it comes in the form of a bill passed by the Senate and House which will prevent Texas municipalities from banning fracking within their city limits. But the bill, which emerged as a response to a hydraulic fracking ban passed by Denton voters in November, goes well beyond just fracking and leaves municipalities powerless to regulate any oil and gas practices that do not involve surface operations.
The bill emerged as legislative backlash to a hydraulic fracturing ban passed by Denton voters in November. The legislation also prevents cities from passing ordinances addressing underground activity, including disposal wells, which have been linked to earthquakes, and pre-empt any ordinance deemed not “commercially reasonable.”
Now Red appreciates the need for uniform rules on drilling practices, but the hypocrisy of the Tea Partisans is just plain shocking. They insist that the federal government cannot dictate to Texas – but then have Texas turn around and dictate to local government.
Scientists claim to have established that the spike in earthquakes in the DFW area can be traced to saltwater injection – a byproduct of drilling and fracking operations. The Associated Press reports that a study has linked the small earthquakes occurring west of Fort Worth to nearby natural gas wells and wastewater injection.
And the good news? With reduced fracking activity and the resulting injection of wastewater, it is predicted that there will be fewer earthquakes.
In 84 days from November 2013 to January 2014, the area around Azle, Texas, shook with 27 magnitude 2 or greater earthquakes, while scientists at Southern Methodist University and the U.S. Geological Survey monitored the shaking. It’s an area that had no recorded quakes for 150 years on faults that “have been inactive for hundreds of millions of years,” said SMU geophysicist Matthew Hornbach.
When the volume of injections decreased significantly, so did the shaking.
The scientists concluded that removing saltwater from the wells in the gas production process and then injecting that wastewater back underground “represent the most likely cause” for the swarm of quakes, according to a study published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications.
The scientists determined this based on where and when the earthquakes happened; computer models that track pressure changes; and company data from nearby wells. Hornbach said the timing and location of the quakes correlates better to the drilling and injection than any other possible reason.
“There appears to be little doubt about the conclusion that the earthquakes were in fact induced,” USGS seismologist Susan Hough, who wasn’t part of the study team, said in an email. “There’s almost an abundance of smoking guns in this case.”