Speaking of Obama’s fracking boom: 7 million Americans are at risk from earthquakes caused by the foul practice (from 3/28/16)

7 million Americans at risk from manmade earthquakes due to fracking / WaPo


Why is oil so cheap these days?  Maybe part of the answer is that the US government absolutely had to stop fracking– because it finally admitted the resulting earthquakes could not be tolerated, nor could the poisoned water be ignored any longer. Like so much else in our modern USA, the profits derived from fracking were privatized, while the destruction it rained down got socialized (i.e., experienced, and later to be paid for by us all).

Likely the collapse of the price of oil simplified things greatly for our government:  no long-drawn-out legal battles over the public health and environmental effects. Fracking lost money, so it simply and quietly went away.  Few recriminations had to be faced over the fact the industry was given carte blanche by governments to pollute aquifers. Maybe Americans wouldn’t connect the fracking sites to all the new earthquake activity.  But the WaPo isn’t letting that happen. Here is the verbatim story:

Earthquakes are a natural hazard — except when they’re man-made. The oil and gas industry has aggressively adopted the technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to shatter subsurface shale rock and liberate the oil and gas lurking there. But the process results in tremendous amounts of chemical-laden wastewater. Horizontal drilling for oil can also produce  massive amount of natural, unwanted salt water. The industry disposes of this wastewater by pumping it into deep wells.

And the Earth moves.

On Monday, the U.S. Geological Survey published for the first time an earthquake hazard map covering both natural and “induced” quakes. The map and an accompanying report indicate that parts of the central United States now face a ground-shaking hazard equal to the famously unstable terrain of California.
Some 7 million people live in places vulnerable to these induced tremors, the USGS concluded. The list of places at highest risk of man-made earthquakes includes Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, Arkansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Ohio and Alabama. Most of these earthquakes are relatively small, in the range of magnitude 3, but some have been more powerful, including a magnitude 5.6 earthquake in 2011 in Oklahoma that was linked to wastewater injection.

Scientists said Monday they do not know if there is an upper limit on the magnitude of induced earthquakes; this is an area of active research. Oklahoma has had prehistoric earthquakes as powerful as magnitude 7.

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