Nel's New Day

February 19, 2014

Fracking = Earthquakes?

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 9:53 PM
Tags: , , ,

Imagine living in a state that has 103 earthquakes in one weekend. That was the case in Oklahoma last weekend. Yesterday, Oklahoma had 39 earthquakes over 2.5 in magnitude with many others below that. Each year saw between 0 and 11 earthquakes of at least 2.0 in Oklahoma between 1990 and 2008; that number grew to 49 in 2009 and 180 in 2010. Yesterday there were more than three dozen in just a day. A chart of five years shows the exponential growth, with 780 earthquakes in under two months this year. And that was before the 39 yesterday.

maddow_earthquakes_ spiike

What’s the difference during the past few years? Even doubters are beginning to believe that fracking–underground explosions to free oil and gas–and the resulting waste-water disposal may be the cause. They might want to note that the growing number of earthquakes near the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport stopped a few years ago when the facility shut down fracking wells on the airport property.

These are fracking experiences across the nation:

  • Arkansas: two couples are suing two companies for causing earthquakes that damaged their homes by fracking. The complaint states that “Arkansas experienced almost as many earthquakes in years following disposal well activity than it did in the previous twenty years collectively.”
  • California: The federal government approved three new fracking jobs off the state’s shores despite concerns from state coastal regulators who can stop fracking in federal waters at least three miles offshore if the work threatens water quality closer to shore. U.S. government permits treat fracking like oil drilling.
  • Florida: This may be the latest state to have whole-sale fracking: a company has applied for a permit to frack in the middle of the Florida panthers’ Everglades habitat. The EPA will hold a hearing on the permit on March 11. Collier Resources Company owns mineral rights in 800,000 acres in the wilderness. In addition to southwest Florida, fracking companies are looking at the northwest part of the state. Although two bills before the legislature would require companies to divulge what chemicals are being used, the measures do not ask for disclosure of the amount or concentration of the chemical.
  • Kansas:  Gov. Sam Brownback has assigned a committee to study the possibility that fracking is the cause of a recent increase of earthquakes in the state. Kansas was one of five states least likely to experience earthquake damage until the state experienced a spate of tremors last fall, culminating in a 3.8 quake on December 16, 2014 near the Kansas-Oklahoma border. 
  • North Dakota:  Last week, an oil well leaked fluid and spewed oil. No one knows what chemicals are in the water because fracking companies are not required to release this information.  There is no report about whether the well is under control almost a week later.
  • Ohio: After state lawmakers approved fracking and drilling in state parks, Gov. John Kasich and state regulators began to make plans for this extraction. Allies include Halliburton, the Ohio Oil and Gas Association, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and America’s Natural Gas Alliance.  Update on 2/20/14: Kasich has stated that he doesn’t support fracking in state parks after all. Series of events in Ohio:

*Kasich opened up state parks and forests to fracking.

* Kasich’s team met to discuss a marketing plan to promote fracking on public lands.

* Kasich’s spokesperson said the governor’s office didn’t know about the plan.

* Kasich’s spokesperson concedes the governor’s office did know about the plan.
* Kasich announces he’s not for fracking in state parks and forests after all.
 Democrats have called for an investigation into Kasich’s actions.
  • Pennsylvania: On February 11, a Chevron natural gas well exploded in Greene County, killing one person and injuring another. Chevron’s fracking well exploded, killing one person and injuring another. A massive blaze caused by the explosion spread to another well and burned for over a week, sending smoke and noxious fumes across the community. Referring to the disaster as an “incident,” Chevron gave each householder a gift certificate for a large pizza, hoping that this mollify them. Certificates expire in less than three months.

The fracking companies wield great power. Since October 21, one Pennsylvania opponent, 63-year-old Vera Scroggins, is legally barred from 312.5 square miles that Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation owns or leases. That means she cannot go to the county hospital, animal shelter, recycling center, shops, and lake shore. Cabot was not required to identify or map lands of its drilling leases. Her peaceful and legal protests included taking Yoko Ono to frack sites to elevate public concerns about fracking.

  • Texas: Although the EPA dropped an inquiry last year into a claim of contaminated water in Parker County, the agency relied on tests done by the driller. Independent research from Texas Duke University has discovered high levels of methane in the county’s wells, exceeding the federal minimum safety level.

In the Barnett Shale area, the small town of Azle is fighting back against the fracking and waste-water disposal that has resulted in cracked foundations, sinkholes, and reduced property values after over 30 earthquakes have hit the area in the past three months. Dissatisfied with response from the state, a busload of residents went to Austin to a meeting of the Texas Railroad Commission, the state’s oil and gas regulator.

U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist Dr. William Ellsworth tried to claim correlation but not causation. He noted last summer than that rate of quakes of 3.0 and over in the central and eastern U.S. had multiplied to about 100 a year during 2010 to 2013 and coincided with the increase in fracking. A shutdown of disposal wells has ended the earthquakes.

Most of the current fracking in the U.S. occurs in areas suffering the greatest from drought, usually Colorado and Texas. Water use for almost 40,000 wells from January 2011 to March 2013 was 97 billion gallons of water. California has called on Gov. Jerry Brown to suspend fracking during the state’s record-breaking drought.

More than property values are at risk because of fracking proximity. A study released in early February shows that children born within a 10-mile radius of fracking sites have a greater chance of having congenital heart defects (CHD). The research studied 124,842 rural Colorado births from 1996 to 2009. In Colorado, 26 percent of the over 47,000 oil and gas wells are within 150 to 1000 feet of a home or other building for human occupancy. Researchers reported that their analysis was restrict to rural towns of under 50,000 with less potential for other pollution sources such as traffic, congestion, and industry.

According to the study:

“Studies in Colorado, Texas, Wyoming and Oklahoma have demonstrated that natural gas development (NGD) results in emission of volatile organic compounds, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons from either the well itself or from associated drilling processes or related infrastructure, i.e., drilling muds, hydraulic fracturing fluids, tanks containing waste water and liquid hydrocarbons, diesel engines, compressor stations, dehydrators and pipelines.

“Some of these pollutants [e.g., toluene, xylenes, and benzene] are suspected teratogens or mutagens and are known to cross the placenta, raising the possibility of fetal exposure to these and other pollutants resulting from NGD. Currently, there are few studies on the effects of air pollution or NGD on birth outcomes.”

In Pennsylvania, a study shows that proximity to fracking wells has a correlation with lower birth weight. Water pollution does not seem to be related; researchers are wondering about the air pollution of fracking as a potential cause. Over 15 million people in the United States live within one mile of a fracking well.

There is at least one recent victory. In Pennsylvania, the state Supreme Court ruled 4-2 in December that the zoning provisions of Act 13 are unconstitutional. The 2012 act amended an existing Oil and Gas Act by destroying local zoning control over fracking and other oil and gas drilling. Companies could frack 24 hours a day anywhere they wanted.

Thanks to the court decision, state municipalities can use the same land use authority over fracking that they do for all other industrial activities. The beauty of the decision is that the court wrote that people have the “right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment.” It keeps the state legislature from imposing new zoning laws surrounding fracking. Other states have a number of home rule cases similar to this; Pennsylvania has set a precedent.

Vera Scroggins is appealing her banishment from her community. Maybe she will win too.

Advertisements

Leave a Comment »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

AGR Daily News Service

Transformational Change; What Works For Seven Future Generations Without Causing Harm?

JONATHAN TURLEY

Res ipsa loquitur ("The thing itself speaks")

Jennifer Hofmann

Inspiration for soul-divers, seekers, and adventurers.

Occupy Democrats

Progressive political commentary/book reviews for youth and adults

V e t P o l i t i c s

politics from a liberal veteran's perspective

Margaret and Helen

Best Friends for Sixty Years and Counting...

GLBT News

Official news outlet for the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table of ALA

The Extinction Protocol

Geologic and Earthchange News events

Central Oregon Coast NOW

The Central Oregon Coast Chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW)

Social Justice For All

Working towards global equity and equality

Over the Rainbow Books

A Book List from Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table of the American Library Association

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

%d bloggers like this: