AUSTIN—Railroad Commissioner Ryan Sitton today directed Commission staff to work with seismic researchers at Southern Methodist University to schedule a public meeting in response to their recently published study in Nature Communications titled, “Causal factors for seismicity near Azle, Texas.”

The following statement is attributed to RRC Commissioner Ryan Sitton:

“This hearing will help us gain a better understanding of the Azle data and determine what measures, if any, should be taken.  I appreciate SMU’s work on this issue and look forward to an engaging, thorough discussion that considers all scientific evidence available.

“As a Texas Railroad Commissioner, one of my primary duties is to ensure that Texans have confidence in the way energy is developed in our state.  Since November 2013, certain areas of Texas have experienced elevated levels of seismic activity, and residents are concerned that this may be caused by oil and gas related activities.  

“Since that time, the Commission has held hearings in Azle and Austin, hired an in-house seismologist and adopted disposal well rule amendments that are designed to address disposal well operations in areas of historical or potential seismic activity. I want the public to know that the Commission is constantly monitoring the situation, and will consider any evidence and data that suggests possible causation between oil and gas activities and seismic events, so that we can take appropriate action if necessary.

In light of SMU’s study, I am calling for invited testimony from the Azle operators and SMU research team to present their respective research on this important issue at the Railroad Commission as soon as possible.”

Details of the hearing will be released upon confirmation from invited participants.

Elected to the Railroad Commission Nov. 4, 2014 to a six-year term, Commissioner Ryan Sitton won the general election with over 58 percent of the vote.Sitton is a native Texan who grew up in the Irving area. He is a graduate of Texas A&M University where he earned a degree in Mechanical Engineering, and met his wife, Jennifer. Following college, Ryan went to work as an engineer in the energy industry. In 2006 Ryan and Jennifer founded PinnacleAIS, an engineering and technology company focused on reliability and integrity programs for the oil, gas, and petrochemical industries.