Energy Environment Science

Fracking Earthquakes!

I'm sure it's all just coincidence. Just like breathing is causing the sea level to rise.

Via Chris Hayes:

A new study by federal scientists has tied the controversial method of natural gas extraction known as hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” to a skyrocketing number of earthquakes in the Colorado-New Mexico region.
The study, presented to the American Geophysical Union this week by scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey, found a stunning increase in seismic activity in the Raton Basin on Colorado and New Mexico after 2001, when companies began injecting wastewater fluid from natural gas drilling into the ground there. Between 1970 and 2001, there were just five earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 or greater in the area. From 2001 to 2011, that number spiked to 95 earthquakes, an increase of 1,900 percent.
The federal researchers concluded that “the majority, if not all of the earthquakes since August 2001 have been triggered by the deep injection of wastewater related to the production of natural gas from the coal-bed methane field here,” according to an abstract of the paper posted online by the American Geophysical Union.

I wonder how many studies and lawsuits it will take for the tobacco fracking industry to admit that its product is poison?

  • James Laing

    well the product isn’t poison the chemicals used to make the product are poison. However the no nukes folks are lookig presciet after the Fukushima fiasco

  • Dan_in_DE

    Careful there, Brink! Fracking, like nuclear energy, is one of those issues where liberals are guilty of quite a bit of fear-mongering, and exaggerating the environmental impacts. As an environmental scientist, I’m pretty well up to speed on the topic, and I can tell you that the left-wing/green pushback on fracking is way over the top. And while their concerns deserve further examination, particularly the disturbing trend here with the earthquakes, green critics are mostly misinformed and misguided. These quakes are not a universal fracking problem, and they’re not at all severe thus far. More importantly, activists tend to portray the dangers of fracking as causing gases and chemicals to move from the deep shales into the groundwater, which has been the subject of much research even though it is extremely unlikely. The research shows that it’s not happening, and it won’t as long as the regulators err on the side of caution. The problems with fracking are much less exciting. It’s that problems with drilling are inevitable, and leaks will occur at about 2-5 percent of wells, and that standard industrial practices are always subject to mishaps that lead to wastewater and chemical spills. These issues notwithstanding, the procurement of gas by fracking is still far safer, greener, and CO2 friendly compared with the current practicable energy alternatives, like coal.

    • Dan_in_DE

      The good thing is that, unlike Conservatives in their ideological biases, Liberals confronted with the facts and the science will come around and adjust their views and positions. It’s what sets us apart from the closed-minded, lizard brain-driven Republicans.

  • Andrew Bowers

    Earthquakes are caused by Jesus, not by blowing up Earth’s crust. That’s silly.

  • D_C_Wilson

    I won’t be until the last drop of oil and the last gram of natural gas has been pumped out of the ground.

  • muselet

    I wonder how many studies and lawsuits it will take for the tobacco fracking industry to admit that its product is poison?

    That’s a joke, right?