Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Natural gas fracking has new PR problem - Earthquakes

On the very first morning of 2012, public relations consultants for the natural gas industry woke to headlines reporting that a fracking-related well had triggered a magnitude 4.0 earthquake in Youngstown, Ohio. Its shaking was felt as far away as Buffalo and Toronto.

Happy New Year, boys. Time to renew your contracts and jack up your spin fees.

The public debate over environmental and health risks associated with natural gas fracking (hydrofracturing) was one of the hottest environmental issues of 2011 in the Northeast.  The news of the Ohio quakes can only spur efforts by opponents of fracking to ban or significantly curb the use of the controversial gas-extraction process.

The Christian Science Monitor in How fracking caused an Ohio earthquake notes that the quake was not caused by fracking wells themselves but apparently by an well used to inject waste fluids from the fracking process back into porous rock formations deep underground.

It's not the first time that Ohio had  encountered seismic problems related to fracking injection wells.

The Monitor reports that a  "string of quakes last year prompted the state  to ban drilling new wastewater-injection wells within five miles of the well suspected of triggering the temblors. At the state's request, the well itself was shut down Dec. 24."

Ohio is not alone. In July, the Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission banned wastewater-injection wells from a 1,150-square-mile area overlying key shale deposits because of increased earthquake activity linked to the wells, according to the Monitor story.

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Oil and gas 'fracking' wastewater caused 11 earthquakes in Ohio
Ohio delays four fracking wastewater wells in wake of quake

Recent blog posts:
Federal court freezes EPA cross-state air pollution rules

Time runs out on Delaware's offshore wind project

Philadelphia now recycling milk & juice containers, too

In NJ, a clash over control of environmental regulations 
EPA report links fracking to groundwater contamination

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