Comments on SMU Seismicity Study

April 22, 2015

Yesterday, a study was released by SMU regarding seismic activity in my district, specifically the Azle and Reno areas in late 2013 and early 2014. It was the possibility of a link between seismic events and saltwater disposal wells that motivated me to call for the creation of a special House committee on seismicity.

In 2014, the Texas Railroad Commission – at the advice of the new House Subcommittee on Seismicity on which I served – implemented new regulations to address many of the concerns now raised by the SMU study. Because seismic activity and our state’s geology don’t follow municipal boundaries, it is imperative that oil and gas regulation (including saltwater disposal wells) be consistent and statewide.

In April of 2014, the Texas Railroad Commission employed the state’s first seismologist, Dr. Craig Pearson. Well respected in the scientific community, Dr. Pearson took quick action to engage with the Subcommittee and work to develop the comprehensive new regulations. The rules require companies to provide historic seismic event data and analysis prior to permitting new wells and empower the Railroad Commission to take immediate action if a disposal well is likely to be causing seismic activity, including shutting in a well that is determined to be causing seismic events.

While the state seismologist has not yet reported to the Legislature regarding the review of the SMU report, I have called for a meeting with him this week.

The full text of the new regulations governing disposal wells can be found here: