Use access key #2 to skip to page content.

Why is fracking still legal?

Recs

0

November 10, 2011 – Comments (5)

This is an article I read on Miyanville yesterday: http://www.minyanville.com/businessmarkets/articles/earthquake-natural-gas-Rocky-Mountain-Arsenal/11/9/2011/id/37856?page=1

For the too lazy to click the link/TLDR crowd it sums up as thus:  The United States Army and The US Geological Survey determined back in 1966 that deep injection wells, exactly like what is used in fracking, were causing "significant seismic events" aka earthquakes.

Up to two years ago Oklahoma had about 50 earthquakes a year.  In 2010 they had 1,047 earthquakes.  There are 181 injection wells in Lincoln County where most of the seismic activity from last weekend, including a 5.6 earthquake were centered.

So if fracking not only pollutes ground water, which I totally tend to believe, but is known by the US government to cause natural disasters why is it still legal?  I also got to thinking about possible legal reprecussions against energy companies using this process.  Like if a sizable earthquake was centered near deep injection well sites would it be possible to sue the energy company for any property damage and/or bodily harm/loss of life that might result from that earthquake?  I then got to thinking would it really take people dying from something like this to get politicians to question whether or not fracking was a good idea?  the answer I sadly came up with was probably.

I get that natural gas companies provide jobs and in these tough economic times having a job, any job, is awesome.  However, if those jobs are potentially causing significant damage to the surrounding local community are they jobs that are worth having? 

5 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On November 10, 2011 at 12:23 PM, amassafortune (29.28) wrote:

 U.S. citizens take for granted the vast advantage we have in water resources vs. the rest of the world. As with our financial system, all it takes is money to place a critical core public need on par with short-term profit. Jobs are just the current, convenient rationalization. 

Like a struggling family living in an older all-wood structure, that $3 dollar smoke detector battery never seems as important as food or a utility bill, but we all regularly hear on the news how devastating that choice can become. 

"...possible legal reprecussions against energy companies using this process."

As we learned during the BP gulf spill, companies are smart enough to find ways to limit their exposure to catastrophic events, even ones they solely create. 

Companies only drill when the potential profit exceeds expenses and potential liability. Many take a lesson from Appalachian coal ventures that create legally separate subsidiaries.When liability claims begin to exceed profits (usually near the point of deposit depletion when done smartly), the entity declares bankruptcy. 

Fracking risk will be handled similarly. You can bet for sure, when water contamination or earthquake damage occurs the jobs and responsible parties will be long gone. 

This new quake connection does help counter the gas industry argument that as long as the protective drill sheath is properly sealed there is little chance contiminants could ever permeate through thousands of feet to ground water. A quake can easily break that seal. 

Take a lesson from the parts of the world that still spend up to 40% of their time and daily calories taking care of their water needs. Our relatively easy access to clean water is not to be risked, even when balanced against our critical need for energy.

When it comes to water, we in the U.S. live in the Garden of Eden, but it's easy to temp politicians with contributions, the promise of jobs, or any other apple they may desire.  

Report this comment
#2) On November 10, 2011 at 12:47 PM, Frankydontfailme (29.57) wrote:

Fracking likely causes earthquakes, but only low magnitude ones that humans don't notice. There is no evidence that it causes high magnitude earthquakes.

They've been fracking heavily in Nebraska and there hasn't been an earthquake in decades (an earthquake noticeable by humans that is).

As for the water supply contamination, I am also worried about this. It should be up to local communities that would be affected to chose whether to allow fracking or not. People should be well aware of the risks and potential benefits of accessing natural gas supples. The federal government should have nothing to do with it. 

Report this comment
#3) On November 10, 2011 at 1:48 PM, Schmacko (90.88) wrote:

#1) "Take a lesson from the parts of the world that still spend up to 40% of their time and daily calories taking care of their water needs. Our relatively easy access to clean water is not to be risked, even when balanced against our critical need for energy."

I agree with this completely. 

#2) "Fracking likely causes earthquakes, but only low magnitude ones that humans don't notice. There is no evidence that it causes high magnitude earthquakes."

I meant to type into the paragraph about Oklahoma's quakes that obviously the vast majority of the 1000+ earth quakes they had last year weren't very noticible.  5.6 imo is.  Now whether or not you can directly link that to fracking is another question.

A lot of this may depend on how much normal seismic activity there is in your state.  The USGS actually has a site that shows all the recent earthquake activity in the states for the last week.

http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/recenteqsus/Quakes/quakes_all.php

I noticed Arkansas popping up continually on the list including some quakes with magnitudes above 3 and a few above 5.  I then did a google search on "fracking in Arkansas" and found these two articles of interest right away:

http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/03/01/fracking-earthquakes-arkansas-man-experts-warn/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/18/arkansas-fracking-earthquakes_n_837485.html

The fox news article has excerpts from officials in non-earthquake prone areas in Texas and West Virginia that have all of a sudden start experiencing earhtquakes after fracking comes to their locales.  Arkansas, like Oklahoma, seems to ahve experienced a huge uptick in earthquake activity including two over 5.0 in the last week.  I find it more than coincdental that when Arkansas ordered the deep injection wells to temporarily halt the # of earthquakes drops back off again.

I've seen sites list high magnitude and/or major earthquakes as either above 6.0 or 7.0, which these quakes haven't hit yet.  But 5.0+ is definitely still noticible and can definitely cause property damage.

"As for the water supply contamination, I am also worried about this. It should be up to local communities that would be affected to chose whether to allow fracking or not. People should be well aware of the risks and potential benefits of accessing natural gas supples. The federal government should have nothing to do with it. "

I think it would at the very least need to be handled at the state level.  I don't think many local communities would have the resources to do the enviornmental impact studies that would really be needed.  I also worry that the more decentralized you get the easier it is for large companies to exert influence on the deciscion making process.  

Report this comment
#4) On November 10, 2011 at 7:26 PM, dbjella (< 20) wrote:

I also worry that the more decentralized you get the easier it is for large companies to exert influence on the deciscion making process.  

That made me chuckle. 

Report this comment
#5) On January 22, 2013 at 11:10 PM, windowman100 (< 20) wrote:

The Truth abour Fracking,,,,,  Watch the video, please!

Report this comment

Featured Broker Partners


Advertisement