Anti-fracking activists, North Texas residents pack meeting regarding recent quakes

KDFW | Mark Norris

January 13, 2014
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Dallas News |

Anti-fracking activists, armed with their own charts and studies, made their cases to homeowners in Azle and surrounding areas at a meeting Monday night.

There have been 30 earthquakes in North Texas in the last two months, most of which have affected the Reno-Azle area northwest of Fort Worth. A 2.2 magnitude quake struck the area Saturday, and a 3.1 rumbled through Monday morning.

Residents say they're tired of waiting for the state to take action.

The meeting was unlike one held two weeks ago -- there were no elected officials at Monday night's meeting, but still plenty of questions.

The meeting was sponsored by a group that is openly critical of the oil and gas industry.

About 300 people were in the crowd, and there was standing room only at the Azle Community Center. Each speaker at the town hall meeting from anti-drilling groups blamed injection wells for the rash of 30 earthquakes over the last two months in the area.  

"Well we're gonna have to pressure the state, the Railroad Commission, but we also need to pressure our elected officials," said Sharon Wilson with Earthworks' Oil & Gas Accountability Project. 

Wilson points to studies that have been done in other states that have found direct links between injection wells and seismic activity -- studies that are just now underway in North Texas.  

The quakes have prompted questions for Lynda Stokes, the Mayor of Reno.

Stokes says there are cracks in the walls and floor inside the council chambers at Reno City Hall. Many of the earthquakes the area has felt have been centered there.

Stokes says the cracks showed up right after the quakes started.

"I don't know why study after study has to be done," she said. "If they've done it on one, two, three, or five places, and it's happening here now and most of ‘em are centered in between the disposal wells, then common sense would tell me, you know, hey, let's shut these down," she said.

In the crowd was homeowner Tracey Napier, who wanted to know why a sinkhole in her backyard formed soon after she felt an earthquake.

"We put some of those big concrete blocks so my husband could drive the lawnmower across it," she said. "They're gone. They're down in the hole."

Napier had questions, like everyone else at the meeting.

"Is it going to stop?" she said. "If it doesn't stop, if my house falls in a hole, who am I gonna blame?"

A spokesperson for a non-profit group funded by the oil and gas industry says that many of the studies have suggested there is a lot of correlation between injection wells and earthquakes, but not a lot of causation.

Tagged with: texas, railroad commission, fracking, earthquakes

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