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Aftershocks From SMU Earthquake Report Felt in Austin

Also, another run at changing the name of the Texas Railroad Commission, and a softening job market is attributed in part to the drop in oil prices.

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Railroad Commissioner Ryan Sitton is calling for a hearing on seismicity issues, one day after the journal Nature Communications published a Southern Methodist University-led study concluding that gas industry activity “most likely” triggered a series of earthquakes that shook the Barnett Shale towns of Reno and Azle from late 2013 through early 2014.

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

“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,” Sitton’s statement said.


In other energy news this week, lawmakers are once again attempting to change the name of the state regulatory agency overseeing oil and gas activity. It, as readers no doubt know, goes by the anachronistic name of the Texas Railroad Commission.

A constitutional amendment by state Rep. Larry Phillips, R-Sherman, and accompanying legislation would swap out the old name for the more accurately descriptive name of the Texas Energy Commission.

After testimony was taken, the proposed amendment and bill were left pending in committee.


Job growth in Texas ran at 1.6 percent in January, slipped to 1.3 percent in February and dove into negative territory in March. The state lost 12,000 jobs, a 1.2 percent decline, according to numbers from Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas released this week.

The bank is forecasting the state’s job growth rate to linger between 0.5 percent and 1.5 percent in 2015. The weakened job market is being attributed in part to the impact of the collapse of oil prices.

Disclosure: Southern Methodist University is a corporate sponsor of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

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