Murphey: Governor signs earthquake bill

Murphey: Governor signs earthquake bill

House Bill 3158 has now been signed into law by the Governor. Undoubtedly one of the most important proposals of this legislative session, it seeks to do away with any ambiguity regarding the Corporation Commission’s ability to enforce wastewater injection well cutback zones.


There has been much debate within state government over the past few years regarding whether or not the state has the right to require an injection well permit holder to reduce the level of permitted injections.

The ambiguity gave room to a few bad actors who continued injections even after they were asked to cut back.

Legislators understandably became worried and we worked on multiple proposals this session to ensure that the cutback areas had their desired effect.

The outcome of that work is House Bill 3158.

I was a bit skeptical at first. I feared this legislation would not result in a substantive fix, but as the bill continued through the legislative process, the bill’s primary House author worked with the Corporation Commissioners to strengthen the proposal.

The bill went into law without a single “no” vote. It was unanimously approved by both the House and Senate.

This reflects how far we have come in one year’s time. During the last legislative session, I could count on one hand the number of legislators who were willing to speak publicly about the problem, and most possessed no tangible understanding of its broad scope.

Worse, at that time, the legislators inexplicably continued to advance legislation that appeared to retaliate against those who had concerns.

This year is completely different. I believe that nearly every legislator understands the specifics of the problem and the immediate need for ending the earthquake swarms.

The new cutback areas are having their effect. Our area was the first to be placed into one of these areas. I believe it has been the goal of those who established our cutback area to return our wastewater injection activity to pre-seismicity levels. It has been described as the state’s most comprehensive cutback plan.

2016 appears to be on track to be the first in at least five years when there isn’t a spike in seismic activity in our area. I certainly hesitate to speak too soon, but it feels as if we have finally turned a corner and peace is being restored.

Thank you for reading this article. Your interest and input are much appreciated. Please do not hesitate to email with your thoughts and suggestions.


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