Fracking, earthquakes and the outlook for natural gas

March 14, 2016 by Matt McCracken

I came across two disturbing stories this morning on Bloomberg on how the link between fracking and earthquake activity is now undeniable.  Finally, the scientific community is acknowledging what so many outside the scientific community have known for quite some time - fracking is causing the earth to destabilize resulting in earthquakes.  As Hilary sez, "The science is clear" but apparently not.  For quite some time, the "science" had denied the causal relationship but now when the evidence is too overwhelming to deny, they are finally coming around.  Here are the links to the two stories on the topic:

Can this oklahoma oilman's company withstand another earthquake?

Big oil pressured scientists over fracking wastewater's link to quakes

Each article sez that Oklahoma now has more seismic activity than California!  I find that incredible and terrifying.  Are buildings in OK built to the same standards so as to absorb the impact of earthquakes as they are in CA?  

The Big Oil article states:

Over the past 30 years, Oklahoma had averaged fewer than two earthquakes a year of at least 3.0 in magnitude.  In 2015 the state is on pace for 875."  In case you're counting, that is a 43,750% increase.  The article goes on to tell about a wastewater project in Love County.  Soon after the project was functioning, the area experienced a 3.4 magnitude quake.  Then "injection at the well was curtailed, then stopped altogether.  [And what do you know?]  The seismic activity dipped almost immediately."  When I was a kid and suffered some sort of minor physical ailment, I'd find myself saying to my mom, "It hurts when I do this." and she would always respond, "Well quit doing it."  If fracking is hurting the earth, should we just stop doing it?  Up to this point, the seismologists and other authorities on such things have played coy with the public about the causal link between wastewater disposal and earthquakes.  I suppose that significant statistical correlations are no longer part of the scientific method.  

I was raised in Dallas, TX and I have heard countless stories of earthquake activity in my old hometown.  While the news reports tremors in the Irving area, I have heard people testify they can feel them all the way in downtown.  Ironically, ground zero for the quakes seems to be under the old Texas Stadium which JJ abondanded.  Its ironic because JJ made his fortunate selling natural gas at steeply elevated prices to regulated utilities of Arkansas who didn't care what they paid because they simply marked up the price and passed it on to the unsuspecting folks of Arkansas.