The Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates the Texas oil and gas industry, has decided that pumping millions of gallons of fracking and drilling waste water into the ground by ExxonMobile subsidiary XTO did not cause a spate of earthquakes in 2013, despite scientific evidence to the contrary.
A peer-reviewed study out of Southern Methodist University had already found that that was “most likely” the cause, adding that industry data would be vital in widening the scope of future studies. But at the hearing, agency examiners weighed that study against the evidence put on the record. XTO was the only party that offered direct evidence, and examiners found in favor of an XTO well located near Azle and Reno.Yes, you can pick your own facts, at least if you pay for them.
“I feel appalled. It’s a slap in the face to every citizen of Texas, every citizen in the United States,” says Reno Mayor Lynda Stokes.
Reno was rattled by the string of earthquakes, and Stokes says the Railroad Commission is not doing its job.
“It’s on the side of industry,” she says. “It’s not there to regulate the industry, it’s there to promote the industry. It’s actually there for both, and that’s kind of like the fox watching the henhouse.”
The Railroad Commission has a staff seismologist, but he did not participate in the hearing.
In an email, a Southern Methodist University spokesperson wrote that the SMU seismology team stands by their peer-reviewed study.
Parties in the hearing have a couple weeks to object to the agency’s findings, but the only parties were XTO and the Railroad Commission itself. [my bolding]