Fracking Rules Tightened in North Texas

Fracking Blocked Due to Seismic Fear
Fracking Blocked Due to Seismic Fear

The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) have tightened fracking regulations near a North Texas Dam, becoming the latest agency at odds with the Texas Railroad Commission.

Related: RRC: XTO Energy Not Responsible for Earthquakes

USACE have added their voice to concerns over the proximity of oil and gas activity in order to protect the Joe Pool Lake dam. Through a multiyear engineering study, the corp took a look at the 20-year standard used for the barrier for drilling and what impact fracking might have on the integrity of the dam.

The study reads, “...It was concluded that the 3,000 foot exclusion zone at the project does not meet agency tolerable risk guidelines and, as a result, puts the project and public at risk. As a result, USACE has adopted a 4,000 foot exclusion zone at Joe Pool Dam within which no drilling will be allowed, regardless of depth. Additionally, in order to protect the project from seismicity, USACE will work to limit injection wells within five miles of the project.

This study has the Texas Railroad Commission (RRC), which regulates oil and gas activity in the state, standing alone in its stance over the relationship between fracking and earthquakes. The RRC has long been skeptical of the link between fracking and earthquakes and has publicly questioned the mounting scientific evidence of the link.

One major study was published last April by researchers at SMU and confirmed that oil and gas disposal wells were likely to blame for a series of earthquakes in Azle and Reno Texas.

I have not reached the conclusion that oil and gas activity is the causal factor. While we remain concerned about seismic activity in the state, we still haven’t had a hearing where we’ve had a definite case made that a specific operator is associated with any specific earthquake activity.
— RRC seismologist


Currently, there is no drilling activity underway near the dam, but XTO Energy has three existing wells and permits to drill four more.

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