TOPEKA — Following an update on seismicity investigations in two areas of the state, the Commission voted unanimously this morning to open general investigation dockets for both Reno County and Rooks County. The dockets will provide a publicly available place to share all information gathered by KCC staff. The dockets also provide a vehicle for the Commission to issue orders if appropriate.
“It is the Commission’s duty and responsibility to be transparent with the public and ensure data and research is available to Commissioners in a timely manner. This is a serious issue for everyone, especially those who have experienced the quakes and the resulting damage to their homes and businesses. The people of Kansas deserve answers,” said Commission Chair Susan Duffy.
The use of a general investigation docket is the same approach the Commission used in 2015 to address public safety concerns due to seismicity in south central Kansas. In that docket, the Commission issued two orders limiting injection volumes and required operators who had drilled to depths beyond the Arbuckle formation to plug back from well depths that permitted injection or disposal in basement rock. The result was a decrease in seismic activity.
KCC Conservation Division Director, Ryan Hoffman, provided today’s status report. He noted that the facts established in Reno and Rooks counties are quite different. In Reno County, there is a mix of Class I wells regulated by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), which are situated in close proximity to the earthquake epicenters. There are also Class II oil and gas wells regulated by the KCC.
Hoffman said in Rooks County, there are only Class II wells and some of those may be deeper than the Arbuckle formation. There is also a history of naturally occurring seismicity in the area.
In addition to leading the agency’s seismicity investigation, Hoffman is a participant in the Arbuckle Study Work Group recently formed at the direction of Governor Laura Kelly to bring stakeholders together to better understand the issues and impacts of fluids deposited into the Arbuckle formation. The Kansas Water Office, KDHE and the Kansas Geological Survey are also participants.
The dockets opened today will be available on the KCC’s website next week.