Search results for fracking

Capital Tonight: State Regulator Addresses Concerns About Fracking

The Travis County District Attorney’s Office has confirmed they will present evidence to a grand jury regarding University of Texas System Regent Wallace Hall. In Thursday’s Capital Tonight, we checked in on the latest in the controversy surrounding Hall and heard how he’s responding to it.

Plus, a state program meant to help foster kids get ahead is getting a second look from lawmakers. We explained how it works and how advocates say it can be improved.

AD WARS

A new ad from the Wendy Davis campaign takes aim at her opponent, Republican Greg Abbott, over his position in relation to a number of high-profile court cases. Our Capital Commentators, Harold Cook and Ted Delisi, weigh in on whether Davis’ latest strategy is effective.

FRACKING FACTS

And while the oil and gas boom continues, there’s been no shortage of questions about its environmental impact. Christi Craddick, who chairs the Texas Railroad Commission, joined us with answers.

Railroad commissioner candidate says no link between fracking and earthquakes

The primary elections may be over, but several races are still underway. Ryan Sitton and Wayne Christian are the two candidates still facing off for their party’s nomination for a spot on the Texas Railroad Commission, which oversees the state’s oil and gas industry.

In an interview on Capital Tonight Monday, Sitton said he’ll encourage energy independence in Texas, including the growth in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. But when it comes to the possible link between hydraulic fracturing and earthquakes, Sitton says he doesn’t believe there’s a connection.

“It seems unlikely that there would be a link, because the amount of pressure that’s required to generate seismic activity, in comparison to the number of wells we’re talking about seems to be a stretch,” Sitton said. “But if there is, the research needs to be done and we need to follow the signs.”

Earlier this year, residents of Azle, Texas bused to the Capitol to complain about frequent, low-level earthquakes. University of Texas researchers have shown most earthquakes happening in that region are occurring near disposal wells used in the fracking process. The railroad commission has hired a seismologist to look more closely at the issue.

Sitton’s Republican opponent, former state Rep. Wayne Christian, has also said he doesn’t see a link between fracking and seismic activity. In an interview with The Dallas Morning News, Christian characterized any action from the railroad commission as an “answer in search of a problem.”

In the primary election, Sitton won 31 percent of the vote to Christian’s 43 percent. But Sitton said he is confident he will make up the gap now that it’s a smaller race, where voters have more of a chance to get to know the candidates.

Lawmakers to investigate ties between earthquakes and fracking

The Texas Legislature is taking steps to determine if earthquakes in North Texas are tied to oil and gas drilling. House Energy and Energy Resources Committee Chairman Jim Keffer named three Republicans and one Democrat to the ‘Subcommittee on Seismic Activity.’ It will be led by Denton Republican Myra Crownover.

The committee with work with the Railroad Commission to look into a rash of earthquakes in Azle, which is located about 50 miles north of Dallas. The area has experienced more than 30 small earthquakes since November. Residents in the area have voiced concerns over cracked walls, foundation damage and water leaks. Many attribute the seismic activity to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. 

“The Texas oil and gas industry is the envy of the nation and the world. All Texans benefit from the safe production
of our natural resources,” Crownover said. “It is our job as legislators to make sure that we address the concerns surrounding recent
earthquake activity so that all Texans can sleep easy, confident that the oil and gas industry continues to operate in a
safe and responsible manner.

The Railroad Commission has not acknowledged the link, however recent studies by Cliff Frohlich of the Institute for Geophysics at the University of Texas suggest the quakes are caused by the wastewater deposited deep in the ground after it’s used to extract oil and gas. Earlier this month, the Railroad Commission announced it will hire a seismologist to study any possible connection.

 

Railroad Commission hiring seismologist to study earthquakes in fracking areas

The Texas Railroad Commission announced Tuesday it will hire a seismologist to study a sudden uptick in earthquakes in parts of the state with oil and gas drilling activities. The announcement comes less than a week after a heated town hall meeting in Azle, which is located about 50 miles northwest of Dallas. The area has experienced more than 30 small earthquakes in the last two months.

Residents voiced concerns over cracked walls, foundation damage and water leaks. Many attribute the seismic activity to wastewater from hydraulic fracturing. Residents were frustrated that the Railroad Commission, which regulates oil and gas, was doing little to address their concerns. 

The Railroad Commission has not acknowledged the link,  however recent studies by Cliff Frohlich of the Institute for Geophysics at the University of Texas suggest the quakes are caused by the wastewater deposited deep in the ground after it’s used to extract oil and gas.

Monday, Commissioner David Porter said in a statement he decided a seismologist needed to be added to the staff to help the agency gather evidence to learn whether there is “any possible causation between oil and gas activities and seismic events.”


Daily Digest | May 4

Our Daily Digest is a lunchtime look at the stories we have our eyes on at the Capitol and beyond. Here’s what we are watching today:

Senators are hearing testimony on Senate Bill 2065 today. The bill, which was fast-tracked weeks after the filing deadline at the request of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, would excuse clergy members from officiating marriages that violate their beliefs. Democrats in the Senate delayed the bill to allow more of the public to testify.

The full House could take up their contract reform bill today. It’s an issue that was thrust into the spotlight after accusations state agencies were giving out multimillion dollar contracts without proper oversight due to loopholes in the law. It became a major campaign point for Gov. Greg Abbott, who called the controversy a key part of his fifth emergency item: ethics reform.

A rally is scheduled Monday afternoon at the Capitol, put together by activists opposed to House Bill 40, known as the “Denton Fracking Bill.” It would prohibit municipalities from banning the oil and gas exploration method. The companion legislation is Senate Bill 1165.

On “Capital Tonight” this evening, James Henson, director of UT’s Texas Politics Project, is scheduled to join us. We’ll talk to him about a planned U.S. military training exercise that drew a lot of suspicion from the public, and even a statement from the governor. Henson points to recent polling that may explain the reaction by both the public and politicians.

Also, the Quorum Report’s Harvey Kronberg will join us for his weekly commentary. That’s tonight at 7 and 11 on Time Warner Cable News.

Daily Digest | April 22, 2015

Our Daily Digest is a lunchtime look at the stories we have our eyes on at the Capitol and beyond. Here’s what we are watching today:

The dust is settling from the open carry bill receiving approval from a second chamber, and we’re finally getting an idea of what gun laws could look like in Texas by the end of the session. Tonight, we will look closer at the bill, as well as a controversial amendment to the legislation. And we’ll get reaction to the prospects for more gun legislation like campus carry.

A group of Texas veterans is rallying at the Capitol to support medical marijuana legislation. They’re urging lawmakers to hold a hearing on HB 3785, which would allow medical marijuana in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder, severe pain and other medical conditions. It would also direct the Department of State Health Services to establish a tightly-regulated system of licensed marijuana cultivators, processors, and dispensaries.

And Governor Greg Abbott is continuing his series of speaking engagements around Austin. He will deliver remarks at Texas State Technical College’s 50th anniversary celebration at the Hilton Hotel downtown.

Tonight’s guests on “Capital Tonight” are Dr. Jon Olson & Dr. Cliff Frohlich, a petroluem engineer and seismologist working at UT-Austin who participated in a recent study released about hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in Texas. We’ll discuss their findings, and look ahead to what’s next for oil and natural gas exploration in Texas. Plus, the Quorum Report’s Harvey Kronberg will join us for his weekly analysis. That’s tonight at 7 and 11 p.m. on Time Warner Cable News.

Daily Digest | April 21, 2015

Our Daily Digest is a lunchtime look at the stories we have our eyes on at the Capitol and beyond. Here’s what we are watching today:

Governor Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton are the guests of honor at the unveiling of the new headquarters of the right-leaning think tank Texas Public Policy Foundation. The new six-floor building is located about two blocks from the Capitol grounds. Their speeches were followed by presentations from big-name donors like Red McCombs, Jim Henry and Dr. Jim Leininger.

The House Public Education Committee’s plan to fix the state’s school finance system is on its way to the full chamber. Committee Chairman Jimmie Don Aycock’s $3 billion dollar plan would increase funding for 94 percent of kids in the state, and would increase per-student funding to poorer districts more than it does wealthy ones. The bill passed out of committee on a 7-0 vote. It comes after massive cuts two sessions ago, and a court ruling that the current funding formula is unconstitutional. That ruling is now on appeal with the Texas Supreme Court.

The reactions to controversial bills approved in both chambers yesterday are still coming in. Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo voiced his opposition to an amendment to the House open carry bill. And public school advocacy group Raise Your Hand Texas released a cartoon video opposing the Senate’s school scholarship tax credit plan, which opponents call a back-door plan to school vouchers. The Quorum Report’s Harvey Kronberg talked about all this and more last night on our show, and you can watch that here.

And a lighthearded end of the day at the Capitol. The House Culture, Recreation and Tourism committee will meet to discuss proposals to name several state superlatives. That includes everything from the cowboy hat as the official hat to naming the western honey bee as the official State Pollinator of Texas.

On tonight’s episode of “Capital Tonight,” Texas Oil and Gas Association President Todd Staples joins the show. He’ll discuss the ban on local fracking regulations, and give us an update on the Texas oil and gas industry. Plus our Capital Commentators — political strategists Harold Cook and Ted Delisi — will give their take on the week’s headlines.

 

Capital Tonight: Van de Putte tours Texas promoting education

In her run for lieutenant governor on the Democratic ticket, Sen. Leticia Van de Putte has focused her message on education. And while it’s not clear yet who her Republican opponent will be, Sen. Van de Putte is already defending potential criticism by referring to her record in the Senate.

In Monday’s Capital Tonight, we looked at the latest in the races for governor and lieutenant governor, plus the debate over open carry and more.

CANDIDATE CONVERSATION

Ryan Sitton, who is running to be the Republican nomination for the Texas Railroad Commissioner, joined us to discuss hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Sitton said he believes there’s likely no link between fracking and earthquakes, but said he was also open to further research on the topic.

MEETING OF PRESIDENTS

Three former presidents and the current commander in chief are meeting this week for a three-day summit at the LBJ Library to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Mark Updegrove, director of the LBJ Library, spoke with us about how this event was made possible.

Capital Tonight: Azle residents bring earthquake concerns to Austin

The controversy over North Texas earthquakes has made its way to Austin. Dozens of North Texas residents shared their concerns with the state’s oil and gas regulators over a spate of recent earthquakes near Azle, Texas.

In Tuesday’s Capital Tonight, we heard why many believe the recent boom in hydraulic fracturing — or fracking — is leading to the earthquakes. Plus, we got an update on the latest round of court hearings over public education funding.

SHAKING THINGS UP

While the Texas Railroad Commission has yet to acknowledge the link between fracking and earthquakes, one scientist’s research is drawing strong connections. We spoke with Cliff Frohlich, a senior research scientist at UT’s Institute for Geophysics about what his research shows.

UNDER THE MICROSCOPE

The details of Sen. Wendy Davis’s life are still drawing scrutiny after an article published in The Dallas Morning News pointed out discrepancies between her campaign narrative and the official record.

Democratic strategist Harold Cook and Republican strategist Ted Delisi joined us to discuss whether the dispute over details could become an ongoing problem for the Davis campaign.

Oil and gas regulator responds after heated meeting on earthquakes

Texas Railroad Commissioner David Porter is responding to complaints out of Azle, Texas, after he and other officials declined to answer questions about the link between earthquakes and nearby oil and gas exploration at a town hall meeting Thursday.

In a statement released Friday, Porter says he understands why residents are concerned.

“Although I was troubled to hear what these residents have been and are experiencing, I believe it is important to listen to their accounts first-hand to better understand their concerns. My goal was to reassure residents that their concerns are not falling on deaf ears and that the Railroad Commission is engaged and involved in gathering more evidence and data. We had over 800 folks come out, and in order to hear from as many people as possible, we were unable to take individual questions or give detailed answers to everyone present.”

The commission is facing criticism after a spate of recent, low-level earthquakes in areas near where hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, are taking place. Recent studies by Cliff Frohlich of the Institute for Geophysics at the University of Texas suggest the quakes are caused by the wastewater deposited deep in the ground after it’s used to extract oil and gas. Frohlich’s study says the water makes it easier for existing faults to slip, leading to man-made earthquakes.

The U.S. Geological Survey has also suggested a link between disposal wells and earthquakes, noting that seismic activity has increased in some areas where wastewater is injected deep underground.

The Railroad Commission hasn’t acknowledged the link, but Porter says some research is in the works. Porter’s office says he’s been in communication with the state geologist about a possible study by the Bureau of Economic Geology. The commission is also in talks with the Environmental Protection Agency and other state agencies.