About two dozen earthquakes have rattled the Azle area in recent weeks, and residents are strongly suspecting the natural gas drilling industry is to blame.
The quakes have been occurring almost exclusively near drilling activities across North Texas. Prior to the industry’s development of hydraulic fracturing, which shoots millions of gallons of high-pressure water deep into the earth’s crevices, North Texas had few occurrences of earthquakes.
Now quakes are as common as the gas wells. Numerous studies have linked the two.
Expect a large turnout at next Tuesday’s meeting between Azle residents and the commissioner of The Railroad Commission of Texas. That’s the agency that regulates the drilling industry, if by “regulate” you mean “aids and abets.”
Railroad Commissioner David Porter will lead the town meeting at 5 p.m. Thursday at the Azle High School auditorium, 1200 Boyd Rd.
Locals activists who have sought accountability from the drillers and more oversight from the regulators aren’t expecting much more than a dog and pony show.
“The majority of activists [in] the area including myself figure that this presentation will downplay the potential impact that drilling and fracking or even gas production injection wells may be having on this increased occurrence of earthquakes in North Central Texas / Parker / Wise County,” said Gary Hogan, president of the North Central Texas Communities Alliance, a group that looks for solutions to problems related to drilling.
“Our [railroad commissioner] is there to support gas operations,” Hogan said, referring to the agency’s history of protecting the oil and gas industry. “However, many of us hope to turn out to hear the blah blah blah.”