AUSTIN, Texas, Jan. 8 (UPI) -- The Texas Railroad Commission said it will hire a seismologist to explore whether earthquakes and energy production are linked.
The decision Tuesday followed a meeting last week in which many of the 800 participants told commissioners and other officials about damage done by a spate of quakes recently, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported Wednesday.
The U.S. Geological Survey recorded nearly 30 quakes in Texas from November to Dec. 23.
During a Railroad Commission meeting Tuesday in Austin, Commissioner David Porter proposed that a seismologist be added to the agency's staff.
"It is imperative that the commission remain engaged and involved in gathering more evidence and data into any possible causation between oil and gas activities and seismic events," Porter said.
Because of its lack of earthquake history, Texas has never had a state seismologist, said state Rep. State Rep. Phil King, adding several lawmakers "have asked the Railroad Commission to get engaged" on the matter.
"My hope is that the seismologist's role will be to conduct a comprehensive analysis" with other researchers, regulators and the industry to determine "what's going on," King said.