Texas advocates — and oil executives — are calling for stronger safeguards against fracking operators’ disposal of contaminated wastewater. “We cannot keep cramming a tremendous amount of water through a disposal well at one site,” Kirk Edwards, an oil executive and former chair of the Permian Basin Petroleum Association, told the Wall Street Journal. The Texas Railroad Commission is investigating whether fracking for methane gas caused or contributed to the third-largest earthquake in the state’s history.
Fracking companies often dispose of salty, contaminated water deep underground and scientific studies have linked the practice with increased seismic activity as the reinjection of the water can disturb dormant fault lines — a connection the Texas Railroad Commission acknowledges. The 5.4 magnitude quake west of Pecos in the Permian oil and gas fields, “felt like a truck hit the house,” David Shifflett, a 74-year-old farmer in Reeves County told the Texas Tribune/Inside Climate News. The earthquake damaged and forced the evacuation of a historic hospital building more than 350 miles away in San Antonio. (Wall Street Journal $, Texas Tribune and Inside Climate News, San Antonio Express-News, AP, Bloomberg $)