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Oklahoma Has 300 Times More Earthquakes Now; Can We Blame Fracking Yet?

Oklahoma Has 300 Times More Earthquakes Now; Can We Blame Fracking Yet?

Which state is the current earthquake capital of the United States? If you guessed California, your data is sadly out of date. Believe it or not, Oklahoma, the new center of quivering land, has twice as many earthquakes as California does at this point. We’re not just talking minor shaking, either. Oklahoma averages one earthquake that measures at least 3.0 on the Richter scale every single day.

The presumed culprit for this boom in seismic activity is fracking. The controversial technique for extracting gas and oil has become a big business in Oklahoma in the past few years. As a point of comparison, before fracking became a staple in Oklahoma, the state experienced one earthquake that registered over 3.0 once a year – now it’s a daily occurrence.

Here’s where things get tricky: from a scientific perspective, nothing has been proven. As we often hear from the scientific community, correlation does not equal causation. In other words, just because a lot of earthquakes have occurred in conjunction with fracking doesn’t necessarily mean that one is responsible for the other. At best, existing research seems to show that fracking is “likely” the cause of seismic events.

However, it’s not as though Oklahoma is the only state to experience this rise in earthquakes: Ohio, Kansas, Colorado, and Texas have noted similar activities. As a result, some states have either considered or actually put a moratorium on fracking until they can more accurately determine whether it is responsible for the rise in quakes in their area. Some government officials believe that given the overwhelming correlation, it’s irresponsible and dangerous to continue fracking until research can assess the situation more definitively. On Friday, after two unusual quakes took place by a fracking well, Colorado decided to suspend fracking activities for at least 20 days.

Is it fair to stop fracking based on such suspicions? Natural gas businesses will obviously argue “No.” They stand to make massive profits from this activity, and they’ll probably be willing to contest that fracking is for the greater good even if and when researchers can effectively conclude that earthquakes are a direct consequence of fracking. Then again, precedent has shown us not to wait for energy corporations to lead the way in public safety.

Quakes aside, environmentalists have gone on the record as opposing fracking for a variety of other reasons. Fracking can be quite destructive to the local land and water, yet the fact that it is also likely to shake the ground just might be the most tangible way that residents can experience these problems.

Ideally, the growing awareness of the apparent connection between fracking and earthquakes will help to expedite more research on the subject. If the link is legitimate, as many of us are feeling increasingly confident is the case, it’s imperative that we put a stop to fracking before even more destruction takes place.

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109 comments

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11:55AM PDT on Jul 10, 2014

Mary B, Natural gas drilling is not at all the same beast as frac sand mining. Marcellus shale is approximately 9,000ft deep, only very sparsely fossiliferous, and one of the most unstable rock formations in the world. Shale gas emits as much as 50% less carbon than wood, oil, or coal, it's safe, plentiful, highly efficient (returning almost 100% it's weight in energy), and very inexpensive.
Or we can just keep drilling oil, mining for coal, and burning that for the next 50yrs as we have for all the years that have brought us to this crisis.
I won't even go into the increased quality of living, 1200 new jobs, family farms and businesses reopened, and the $402 million the company has poured into improvements in Susquehanna County.

I have no desire to force it on anyone; each landowner makes a private agreement with the company and wells are placed as far as possible from objecting neighbors (all 2 of them). But how is it that the *mouths* demand there be NO drilling at all??
Ironically, after 10yrs, the *mouths* are marching on Harrisburg demanding that the company pay them their share of the riches.
*on your, and those who think like you, opinions*
Cheeky for someone who isn't familiar with natural gas or Marcellus gas drilling.
Okay?

10:33AM PDT on Jul 10, 2014

Barbara D. I'm glad you have no earth quakes in your area. Do you know what the geological make up of the area is? How might that affect things? Either way, I sure don't want fracking any where near me for a variety of reasons, all of which I'm sure you've heard.I also will not accept having it tollorated or pushed on those who don't want it based on your, and those who think like you, opinions. The sooner we move beyond fossel fuels and the damage their extraction and use cause, the better. Okay?

1:55PM PDT on Jul 8, 2014

People I know from those states used to say they were more afraid of Cal's earthquakes than their tornados. Now, they say, not so much! They have brought on their own California nightmares.

1:33AM PDT on Jul 7, 2014

Thank you for sharing.

5:04PM PDT on Jul 6, 2014

LOL!! Reading back through the comments it's very amusing that the most vehement comments are posted by people from areas where there is no natural gas drilling.

4:59PM PDT on Jul 6, 2014

Gee, we've been drilling for natural gas on Marcellus here in Pennsylvania longer than almost anywhere else in the country ~ with a lot more wells too.

No earthquakes!!

Maybe you should wait for science before you get all jittered up by biased, suggestive headlines. It's funny how people who don't even live anywhere near drilling, and have have never experienced what it's actually like, seem to think they know more about it than the people who actually live here.

8:29PM PDT on Jul 4, 2014

This one is so obvious!

5:14AM PDT on Jul 4, 2014

Thanks for sharing.

10:59PM PDT on Jul 2, 2014

Sorry about my comment earlier. I guess there are intelligent people in your state, but I still believe the majority are climate deniers. So many have been brainwashed by Fox that it will be really hard to turn their think around. It's refreshing to hear someone is paying attention, but if not a Science teacher who else will admitt it? Keep on keepnig on trying to get through to the people in your state. Hopefully your students are listening to you and not their parents! I still have alot of faith in our youth!
In reply to G.C. Please forgive me for looping you in with everyone in you state, I know there has to be many more like you!











6:56PM PDT on Jul 2, 2014

In Northeast Ohio Earthquakes were caused by Fracking and they tell us it will go on for years!!! Pretty Scarey!
Thank you

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