The Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates oil and gas operations, said Tuesday that it will hire a seismologist to investigate whether there is a connection between energy production and earthquakes.
The move follows a meeting Thursday in Azle attended by more than 800 residents, many of whom told Railroad Commissioner David Porter and other officials about the damage and disruption caused by a swarm of recent quakes.
The U.S. Geological Survey recorded close to 30 quakes from November to Dec. 23.
At a Railroad Commission meeting Tuesday in Austin, Porter proposed that Executive Director Milton Rister add a seismologist to the agency’s staff. The position was posted later Tuesday on the commission’s website.
“It is imperative that the Commission remain engaged and involved in gathering more evidence and data into any possible causation between oil and gas activities and seismic events,” Porter said in a statement released by the agency.
“Commission rules and regulations must be based on sound science and proven facts. In order to do so, I propose the Commission hire an in-house seismologist.”
While the move was generally welcomed, some people said they would have preferred that the position be independent of the commission, which is generally viewed as favoring the industry.