There are whispers across different media that fracking may be linked to earthquakes. This is disturbing news in the least; and at best it should focus attention on alternative energy sources, which may not have been fully vetted in terms of safety concerns. In the alternative energy world we seem more preoccupied with finding new sources of energy than with the consequences of what those energy concerns produce.
The Washington Post, did a story in January that focused on earthquakes in Ohio. Youngstown, Ohio --has never had an earthquake-- until 2011. Seismologists are blaming the eleven earthquakes in Youngstown on fracking. It's believed that the waste water from fracking is the trigger. John Armbruster, a seismologist on the Columbia University's Lamont- Doherty Earth Observatory team states the disposal well is like a hydraulic jack; it slowly splits the underground fault; which in forcing the two sides apart causes a slip, and the slip becomes an earthquake.
Because of earthquakes the drilling site in the FingerLakes region in Western New York was closed in 2011. I can't help but ask if the series of quakes that shook the Northeastern states in 2012 are also related to the fracking being done especially in Pennsylvania? Hopefully I'll soon have an answer for that.
The Oklahoma Geological Society also did a study they published in August of 2011. In their summary they determined that seven hours after hydraulic fracking activity began at the Eola Field in Garvin County the first of --50 quakes-- was felt. While they note that it is highly reasonable that the hydraulic fracturing was the catalyst for the quakes, they stop short of making it the definitive reason for the quakes.
In a state impact paper reported and researched by David Barer and Yana Skorobogatov for Texas, it isn't the fracking itself, but the waste water wells which are the culprit. Each well uses massive amounts of water up to 4.5 million gallons, and Texas has 50,000 such chemically laced standing water wells. Quakes in Texas have been linked to the Eagle Ford Shale and the Barnett Shale.
Maybe we should be fighting for Josh Fox the director of Gasland to be able to film what the Energy Commission is proposing. Fracking has been exempted from the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the EPA does't even have jurisdiction over this industry. So the issues connected with this energy source are diverse, and demand that far more research needs to be done. Between undrinkable firewater and earthquakes this has the appearance of one of those ideas looking to blowup (literally) in our faces.
Coming to the aid of the Fracking industry is a husband and wife pair of filmakers, Ann McElhinney and Phelim McAleer with a film titled "Frack Nation." Their previous film was a rebuttal of Al Gore's "An Inconvenienent Truth" titled "Not Evil Just Wrong." In February they were at CPAC solicting support for their efforts. They also have a web page to drum up funds it is called Kickstarter.
There is a history of how the oil industry and our government have responded to environmental concerns in the past. I would call it the ask questions later policy.
In case you were living under a rock in the spring and summer of 2010 I've added a reminder of how well that policy works.
I included this video from CNN about the earthquakes that were plaguing Arkansas; but what I found most informative is both the time lapse map provided by geologists, and the obfuscation used by state oil and gas regulators. The map shows a causal link between fracking and earthquake activity, but regulators continue to call it a coincidence.They state the area has a history of earthquakes, but the news report starts by saying that the preparation of school children isn't something you would expect in this area. Why wouldn't it be expected if these quakes are common place?
I trust that those who are interested in this issue will be able to make up their own minds, so I've included an interview with Marvin Odum, President of Shell making his case for fracking. I will leave it to you if he answers any questions you have about the safety of this procedure, if you believe that earthquakes are or aren't related, and if you think your drinking water is protected from fracking.