Oklahoma: Yes, Fracking Causes Earthquakes

Wastewater injection 'very likely' responsible for record tremblors
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 22, 2015 7:27 AM CDT
Updated Apr 22, 2015 7:58 AM CDT
Oklahoma: Yes, Fracking Causes Earthquakes
Cleanup continues as the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality inspects the site of a fracking-related spill July 31, 2014, southwest of Hennessey, Okla.   (AP Photo/Enid News & Eagle, Bonnie Vculek)

Oklahoma's government is siding with science, confirming that yes, fracking is largely responsible for the small, daily earthquakes rattling the state. The state's energy and environment department yesterday put up a website describing key evidence, just as the Oklahoma Geological Survey said in a statement that "the injection of produced water in disposal wells" is "very likely" causing most of the state's quakes. The statement, which notes residents should prepare for a "significant earthquake," says that prior to 2008, the state saw about 1.5 quakes each year that were magnitude 3 or greater, Reuters reports; there are now about 2.5 per day. Most of the activity "is occurring over a large area, about 15% of the area of Oklahoma, that has experienced significant increase in wastewater disposal volumes."

The website and statement mark a major change for Oklahoma. Last fall, Gov. Mary Fallin dismissed links between oil and gas activity and earthquakes as rumor. Still, the Oklahoma Oil and Gas Association isn't buying the OGS' claims. "There may be a link between earthquakes and disposal wells," its president says, per the New York Times. "But we—industry, regulators, researchers, lawmakers, or state residents—still don't know enough about how wastewater injection impacts Oklahoma's underground faults." Rep. Cory Williams says "the only way to protect the public" is to freeze oil and gas wastewater disposal wells in 16 counties. (A big Oklahoma quake may be on its way.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.