Fracking Does Not Cause Earthquakes

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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 SayAnythingBlog.com. 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. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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