EPA links oil and gas drilling to Texas quakes

EPA links oil and gas drilling to Texas quakes
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Federal regulators have tied a string of earthquakes in north Texas to oil and gas drilling operations in the state. 

An Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report filed with the Texas Railroad Commission this month concluded that the frequency of earthquakes in the state correlates to the number and location of injection or disposal wells for hydraulic fracturing wastewater there. 

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“In light of findings from several researchers, its own analysis of some cases and the fact that earthquakes diminished in some areas following shut-in or reduced injection volume of targeted wells, EPA believes there is a significant possibility that North Texas earthquake activity is associated with disposal wells,” said the report, via The Texas Tribune

The EPA said it’s concerned about the seismic activity around the Dallas/Fort Worth area because of the “potential impact on public health and the environment, including underground drinking water.” 

It recommended more monitoring of injection wells and analysis of seismic activity in the state. It also “commended” state regulators on the Texas Railroad Commission for establishing earthquake-related regulations for drilling operations there, though the commission has not yet connected wastewater injection to seismic activity in the state, the Tribune reported. 

The EPA report is the latest from scientists and regulators to find a link between wastewater injection and earthquakes. 

Oklahoma was in the spotlight last year when state scientists concluded that injection wells were behind an explosion of small earthquakes there, though the state has seen the number of quakes decline since stiffening regulations on wastewater disposal. 

Federal officials in March concluded that 7 million Americans live in areas threatened by earthquakes induced by human activity.