Friday, November 28, 2014

Fracking Blamed for Series of Earthquakes in Texas City

ALLGOV | Nov 28, 2014 | Steve Straehley

A seismograph recorded the 3.3-magnitude
quake that shook the Dallas-Fort Worth
Metroplex on Nov. 22--.Credit:
University of Texas Institute of Geophysics
Those who live in states other than California often spout the refrain, “Yeah, but at least we don’t have earthquakes!” Residents of Irving, Texas, won’t be able to use that phrase anymore since at least five quakes, which might have been caused by fracking, hit the area in less than a week.

The first, and so far the biggest, was a 3.3 magnitude temblor last Saturday. There was a 2.5 on Sunday, followed by a 2.2 and a 2.3 on Monday and a 2.7 on Tuesday.

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is a drilling technique wherein fluid, often toxic, is injected into wells to facilitate the removal of oil and gas. The epicenter of Saturday’s quake was very close to a fracking wastewater disposal well.

“We are guinea pigs in the middle of this fracking experiment. Texas homes are built to withstand wind, not earthquakes,” Sharon Wilson, an organizer for the advocacy group Earthworks, told Reuters. “Who will pay for the damage to private property?”

At this point, the increase in the number of earthquakes has become so obvious that the Texas Oil & Gas Association agrees that some research into the nexus of fracking and quakes is called for. “The oil and natural gas industry agrees that recent seismic activity warrants robust investigation to determine the precise location, impact and cause or causes of seismic events,” Todd Staples, the association’s president, said in a statement.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) connected a 5.7-magnitude quake in Oklahoma to that state’s robust fracking industry. “The observation that a human-induced earthquake can trigger a cascade of earthquakes, including a larger one, has important implications for reducing the seismic risk from wastewater injection,” USGS seismologist and coauthor of the study Elizabeth Cochran said at the time.

Residents of Denton, Texas, 35 miles from Irving, voted earlier this month to ban fracking within the city limits because of concerns about earthquakes, according to Common Dreams. However, industry groups sued to stop the ban and a state official said she won’t enforce it. So much for small government solutions.

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