The Texas Railroad Commission regulates oil and gas production activities in Texas. The Commission has the authority to issue and suspend permits for production companies and Texas oil and gas lawyers can file complaints with the Commission on behalf of landowners who believe they have been harmed by a well’s operations. Periodically, an energy company’s drilling and wastewater injection permit will be challenged by landowners on the grounds that a well has caused earthquakes, and the Commission conducts hearings to review the evidence of whether the permit should be revoked. The issue of whether injection wells cause earthquakes has come before the Commission several times over the past few years.
The Commission’s investigations have consistently determined that the earthquake swarm activity experienced in Oklahoma and north Texas over the past few years has not been linked with any specific oil and natural gas drilling activity, and until the seismic activity can be linked to a specific producer’s drilling activity, wells should remain open and operational. While scientists at the United States Geological Survey and other research institutions have opined that there is a link, Texas oil and gas regulators have indicated that oil and natural gas production should not be terminated until there is definitive proof of a correlation between drilling/wastewater activity and earthquake activity.
Some of the specific incidents and findings by the Texas Railroad Commission are: