Fracking Does Not Cause Earthquakes


Or, more accurately, fracking doesn’t produce dangerous seismic activity.

Any time you’re drilling or mining underground you’re going to cause some level of seismic activity, but according to a new report from the National Research Council, fracking is not a high risk to cause earthquakes we can actually feel (it’s worth remembering that seismic activity we can’t feel happens all the time).

The controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing to extract natural gas does not pose a high risk for triggering earthquakes large enough to feel, but other types of energy-related drilling can make the ground noticeably shake, a major government science report concludes.

Even those man-made tremors large enough to be an issue are very rare, says a special report by the National Research Council. In more than 90 years of monitoring, human activity has been shown to trigger only 154 quakes, most of them moderate or small, and only 60 of them in the United States. That’s compared to a global average of about 14,450 earthquakes of magnitude 4.0 or greater every year, said the report, released Friday.

Back in April I interviewed Steve Everly of Energy In Depth about a USGS report which was widely reported as having “linked” fracking to earthquakes, but as Everly pointed out, it’s not the process of fracking that has been linked to earthquakes but the use of waste water wells which is an entirely different procedure regulated separately from fracking:

I actually agree with environmentalists that if fracking is causing dangerous seismic activity that we need to do something about it. The problem is the facts don’t support the hysteria the environmentalists are pushing.

Rob Port is the editor of In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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  • flamemeister

    I do not know much about earthquakes, but as far as I know, they are generally not very predictable.  The pressure builds up due to shifting along fault lines.  The more pressure that develops before the plates release, the bigger the earthquake. Consequently, a large quake is unlikely to be caused by fracking that wouldn’t happen anyway, and the quake would be unpreventable in any case.  If fracking did cause premature slippage, the quake would be smaller than the one that’s due, since maximum pressures would not yet have been reached.  I believe that they have tried to develop ways to control slippage, and one way—perhaps the only way—would be to induce slippage resulting in minor quakes well before maximum pressures arise.  Therefore fracking, if it indeed induces premature earthquakes, might actually be a benefit. Same for waste-water wells.  I welcome a seismologist’s—pro or amateur— response to this.

    • robert108

      There you go again, using facts and logic;  the left wingers just hate that.

      • flamemeister

        Perhaps a warning device could be sold to the enviro-whackos that would go “Warning!  WARNING! New fracking going on! (or new waste-water well) Hurry!  HURRY!  Find a place to cower! Take along clean underwear!  Warning!”

    • melissapaulik

      I’ve wondered the same thing!

  • VocalYokel

    Fracking causes idiot winds from blustering Leftards.

  • sbark

    OK now Global warming is debunked,  Fracking damage is debunked.  

    So that means we are down to one phenonomen that “all scientists agree on”………

    Liberalism causes  cranium rectitus.

  • cylde

    Suppose all energy subsidies were removed for all types of energy and we found out who could make money and who went broke or who would invest their own money in solar and wind power with no government loans. Would the proponents of so called green energy put THEIR money where their mouth is?

  • banjo kid

    The left is to demanding and  to emotional to even be considered for looking into any thing related to safety. They use the emotions instead of logic and facts. Boy! that will  get em stirred up .