AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A top Texas official says it’s “possible” oil and gas wastewater being injected deep underground can cause earthquakes.
The statement by Texas Railroad Commissioner Ryan Sitton signals a small but potentially key shift in discussion of seismic activity in the nation’s largest oil producing state.
Sittion’s commission governs Texas’ oil and gas industry. He announced Tuesday that he was joining a research consortium that studies natural and “potentially induced” quakes.
Sitton said “the science is clear that it is physically possible for injection wells” to “cause earthquakes in certain rare cases, given the right set of conditions.”
He added that injection wells are often mistakenly “confused with hydraulic fracturing.”
In neighboring Oklahoma, regulators ordered dozens of disposals wells shut down because they were too near a newly discovered fault line.