A Fracking Earthquake?

006thA Fracking Earthquake?

This is just another one of those things the industry doesn’t like the rest of us to talk about. The cloak of secrecy the industry continues would rival any military operation in the world. We do know that they contaminate wells, bring up radioactive water from deep in the earth,  damage the health of both humans and animals, and evidence is stacking up that they cause earthquakes.

It’s kind of interesting to have a business ethics story of this kind. While it is a national tragedy, academically it’s a beauty of a disaster which will change the field of business ethics forever. After all. we now know when the Vice-President is a former CEO of Haliburton and has years of closed door meetings with energy companies, something bad is about to happen. We now know that when the Congress votes to protect a single industry from government from the laws protecting air and water, that industry is going to do something to the air and water. We now know that when the government is prevented from doing studies and overseeing an industry that our information about the effects of that industry will fragmented, often anectdotal and take years before enough evidence is accumulated before action can be taken.

And as usual, we know that it would have been so much better if we knew then what we know now.

James Pilant

Is Fracking Causing Earthquakes? | Crooks and Liars

In Texas, Oklahoma, Ohio and other states, people who have rarely experienced earthquakes in the past are getting used to them as a fairly common phenomenon. This dramatic uptick in tremors is related to drilling for oil and natural gas, several reports find. And the growing popularity of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is in part to blame.

Between 1970 and 2000, there was an average of 20 earthquakes per year within the central and eastern United States. Between 2010 and 2013, there was an average of more than 100 earthquakes annually. A United States Geological Survey released last month summarized research on man-made earthquakes conducted by one of the agency’s geophysicists:

USGS scientists have found that at some locations the increase in seismicity coincides with the injection of wastewater in deep disposal wells. Much of this wastewater is a byproduct of oil and gas production and is routinely disposed of by injection into wells specifically designed for this purpose.

So, the actual hydraulic fracturing process itself is not to blame in these cases; instead, it’s the injection of wastewater into deep wells that accompanies it.

Hydraulic fracturing produces a higher volume of wastewater than traditional drilling — as the name implies, drillers use millions of gallons of high-pressure water, sand and chemicals to break apart rock and release gas trapped in pockets in the earth. The wastewater generated is often contaminated with salt or poisonous chemicals, and environmental regulations bar drilling companies from allowing it to mix with drinking water; oftentimes, the most economical way for these companies to  dispose of it is to sequester it deep in the ground, below aquifers. Once there, it changes pressure underground and lubricates fault lines, with the potential effect of causing earthquakes.

In both Texas and Oklahoma, the number of earthquakes per year has increased ten-fold. And wells storing wastewater from fracking have also been linked to hundreds of earthquakes near Youngstown, Ohio.

Is Fracking Causing Earthquakes? | Crooks and Liars.

From around the web.

From the web site, Akron Dave.


A group of residents of a small Texas community traveled to the state capital to protest hydraulic fracturing, “fracking,” in their community that is being blamed for about 30 earthquakes since November.

This follows reports of earthquakes near Youngstown, Ohio, last year that were linked to fracking wells, which led the usually business-friendly Gov. John Kasich to order the operation to shut down.

If Texas quakes are like the Ohio seismic activity, the problem could be the injection of fracking wastewater into the ground near a fault line. Geologists say the liquid can create “slippage” in faults, which triggers the quakes.

The fact that fracking has helped dramatically reduce U.S. dependence on imported oil and natural gas makes shutting down fracking operations highly unpopular in some circles. But when the earth is shaking under your feet, you gotta take it seriously.

I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about this.