XTO and Enervest were summoned to Austin last week to try and persuade the Texas Railroad Commission that their operations are not to blame for recent earthquakes in North Dallas.
This unusual request was a result of a highly-publicized and debated study conducted by SMU researchers that concluded two specific wastewater injection wells are likely the cause of a rare string of earthquakes over the last few years (more here). Though the public seems convinced of this causal link, Railroad Commissioner Ryan Sitton said publicly he is ‘unconvinced’.
XTO, a subsidiary of ExxonMobile, presented mounds of evidence to defend their fracking practices including more than 30 exhibits, dozens of slides, and three expert witnesses. The company argued that the unusual seismic activity was a natural occurrence and in hopes that the RRC from shutting down their wells.
This is the first time the commission has required a company to prove it’s not to blame for earthquakes. Recent policy changes now allow the agency to revoke permits if wells are linked to earthquakes.
Enervest is expected to put on its case today and tomorrow.
You can watch the hearing at rrc.com