One of the favorite stories trotted out by the media and opponents of fracking is that the process causes earthquakes. Unsurprisingly, it looks like this is yet another case of the media and the Left relying on the narrative instead of scientific facts. Per an article in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, geologist Craig Pollard of Cinco Resources told people gathered for a presentation hosted by the Institute for Policy Innovation, “Based on known geology and known science, the most likely explanation is that it’s occurring in a known faulted zone of an old buried mountain range.”
Here’s how the article describes the rest of his talk:
“The media is working on sensationalism,” Pollard said. “For it not to be water injection, for it not to be fracking, is not news.”
But he said the different formations west of the Metroplex, including Cleburne and other Johnson County communities, point more toward wastewater injections into old wells than to fracking, the technique of high-pressure pumping of water and chemicals to crack shale and release its oil or gas.
He noted that Dallas sits on an ancient mountain range buried in sediment from the Cretaceous period, which ended 66 million years ago along with the dinosaurs. Mountains, because of the way they’re formed, indicate a web of fault lines. Tarrant County sits on a flat formation, indicating few faults.
But he said the culpability of wastewater or saltwater injections is limited because of underground pressure that resists the water. Pumping power is the key.
The United States has fault lines beyond the San Andreas and New Madrid. Our nation is crisscrossed by a web of them. Most of them are dormant, but that’s different from extinct. For example, here is a list and map of the major quarternary faults and folds thought to be responsible for earthquakes over magnitude 6.0, courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey.
On the subject of the USGS, I should note that Pollard is not operating in a vacuum with his assumptions. As RedState’s own Breeanne Howe noted in her 2013 post on the myths surrounding fracking, USGS seismologist William Leith concurs with the fact that fracking, on its own, does not generate enough power to cause earthquakes. As he told NPR, “Fracking itself probably does not put enough energy into the ground to trigger an eathquake. They’re not a safety hazard. That’s really not something that we should be concerned about.”
Furthermore, as far as wastewater injection into old fracking wells goes, an apparently overlooked 2013 story found that it, not the actual process of fracking, was probably to blame for the tremors:
An unusual and widely felt 5.6-magnitude quake in Oklahoma in 2011 was probably caused when oil drilling waste was pushed deep underground, a team of university and federal scientists concluded.
That would make it the most powerful quake to be blamed on deep injections of wastewater, according to a study published Tuesday by the journal Geology. The waste was from traditional drilling, not from the hydraulic fracturing technique, or fracking.
Interestingly, if you continue reading the article, you’ll note that Oklahoma state seismologists believe the 5.6 magnitude quake was entirely natural in origin. This article’s conclusion was backed up by the USGS’s study of the issue earlier this year.
Even people who believe fracking causes earthquakes admit that they aren’t enough to be a danger. As the National Review notes, the authors of the study linking fracking to earthquakes published this past January think the sensationalizing it has received has gotten out of hand. Per their findings, earthquakes during fracking are a rare occurrence, and once the fracking is finished, the earthquakes stopped. Furthermore, they found that any seismic activity from fracking itself is minor, when it happens at all. They also opposed banning fracking over what they consider a very minor issue.
So, even if we can link earthquakes to fracking, they are so minor that we shouldn’t worry about banning the process. Such reasonable and cool-headed conclusions were lost on the Left and their allies in the media, who merely seized upon the link between fracking and earthquakes.
I would not expect any of this kind of information to make it to any national news media for a prolonged period of time, if at all. They and the Left are dead set on keeping us bound to oil from Arabic dictatorships whose alliances with us are out of convenience at best, and of course, that says nothing of the fact that our money is doing nothing to stop their horrible human rights records.
Image via Christopher Halloran / Shutterstock.com.