The TexNet Seismic Monitoring program, run by the University of Texas at Austin's Bureau of Economic Geology, is designed to track earthquakes in the state and to determine how and to what extent they are being caused by oil field fracking operations.
Fracking has resulted in a boom for American oil and gas production, lowering the cost of energy and weaning the United States off of dependency on foreign sources. However, many scientists have concluded that the practice of injecting oil field waste water into the ground is causing earthquakes. The quakes are minor, except where they happen to take place, and have resulting in cracked drywall and damaged home foundations.
Texas residents near fracking operations started to notice an uptick in earthquakes starting in 2008. The State of Texas undertook to fund the TexNet system, now at around 78 sensors across the state, in order to gain a better understanding of the phenomenon so that solutions can be arrived at.
Both industry and the Texas Railroad Commission have been reluctant to recognize the relationship between waste water injection and earthquakes. However, TexNet is designed to gather hard, scientific data in order to gain an understanding of what is happening. Then state regulators can devise solutions, such as requiring that waste water be recycled, so that the occurrence and size of earthquakes can be diminished, and fracking can still continue to supply America's energy needs.
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