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Saturday, May 9

Fix the wastewater injection problem fast or Americans will put fracking out business

One day, her husband noticed people hopping their fence and ran them off.  They were from Aruba Petroleum, she said, and the fence-hoppers later returned with the local sheriff, who told the McMullens that because the original land owners retained the rights to the subsurface minerals, they could not stop Aruba from digging on their own property.

"That's just how it is in Texas," McMullen said, "Mineral rights supersede surface owners' rights."

That situation is changing because of Americans' silly fear of earthquakes. After all, the ground shaking under your feet adds a little excitement to the humdrum routine. Ask the Nepalis.

So far the fracking that many swear are causing earthquakes hasn't been done close to a major earthquake fault (not to my knowledge) but it's only a matter of time before some fool fracker ignores the USGS survey and tragedy ensues.  Then it won't just be concerned citizens taking advantage of their democratic rights.  There will be blood.   
I've mentioned the issue recently but today's CNN report, What's causing Texas earthquakes? Fracking 'most likely,' report says prompted me to dig up Becky Oskin's highly informative discussion from April 27 for the Washington Post, Fracking is not the cause of quakes. The real problem is wastewater:
New earthquake hazard maps show that fracking’s byproducts are clearly to blame for recent swarms of earthquakes plaguing several states.
The maps highlight 17 hot spots where communities face a significantly increased risk of earthquakes, and the accompanying report links the earthquakes to injection wells used to dispose of fracking wastewater. Previous maps did not include earthquakes that are induced by human activities.
“We consider induced seismicity to be primarily triggered by the disposal of wastewater into deep wells,” said Mark Petersen, chief of the National Seismic Hazard Project for the U.S. Geological Survey, which released the maps last week.
[2014 study links fracking wastewater and Okla. earthquakes]
The earthquake hot spots include portions of Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, Ohio, Arkansas, Alabama, Colorado and New Mexico. Until recently, many of these states were some of the places in the United States least likely to have an earthquake. But then high oil prices brought in companies eager to exploit ancient seabeds where oil and gas mingle with brine.
Plenty more in the article but to learn what the McMullens did next, you'll have to read the CNN report, which is also pretty long. CNN makes it clear the natives are restless, even in Texas.

Note to frackers: get smart and get the wastewater injection problem fixed fast.  And quit whining that nobody has any proof.

As to how much a fix will jack up the cost of fracked oil:  frackers can either spend billions lobbying Congress or spend the money on a solution.  It's their choice. But it will be the American majority's choice not to risk a major earthquake as the price for cheap oil.  



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