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Texas Regulators Hire Their Quake Czar

With growing attention being paid to tremors thought to be associated with drilling waste injection wells, the Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC) has made good on its promise to hire a seismologist to study the issue.

The RRC hired David Craig Pearson, a former team leader for a Los Alamos National Laboratory seismic, experimental field team, who also holds a doctorate in geophysics from Southern Methodist University.

"My objective is to develop a broad understanding of the impact of oil and gas extraction activities on the day-to-day lives of Texas residents," Pearson said. "I believe the Railroad Commission must be able to quickly and factually determine the accurate location of all earthquakes in the state and be able to determine the cause of earthquakes, be they natural or man-made.

"I plan to work to help clarify the root cause of earthquakes occurring by bringing all stakeholders' concerns, questions, ideas and insights together to identify the best possible solutions."

In January the RRC said it would hire a seismologist (see Shale Daily, Jan. 7) after a meeting of residents of Azle, TX, where numerous earthquakes have been blamed on injection wells (see Shale Daily, Jan. 21).

Bringing a seismologist on staff "will allow our agency to further examine any possible correlation between seismic events and oil and gas activity and gain a more thorough understanding of the science and data available," said RRC Commissioner David Porter. "Having a seismologist on staff will also enable the commission to better coordinate with the academic community on future research."

Pearson is to start work at the RRC Tuesday (April 1).

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