As the risk of fracking-induced earthquakes continues to rise, several states have come together to strengthen industry regulations on the disposal of wastewater from hydraulic fracturing.
At a March meeting in Oklahoma City, regulators from Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma and Ohio met to discuss the man-made earthquakes that can result from fracking and what can be done to decrease their frequency and intensity.
Associate Executive Director for the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission Gerry Baker attended the meeting, saying, It was a good start in coordinating efforts It gave the states the opportunity to get together and talk collectively about the public interest and the science.
Fracking is a controversial topic for many, and a lawsuit pending in Arkansas against the operator of a frack waste-removal well may be one of the first to address the issue. The link between earthquakes and hydraulic fracturing, which requires that drillers blast a chemical-water mix into shale for oil and gas, is mainly tied to the disposal of its wastewater.
The U.S. Geological Survey reports a six-fold increase in central U.S. earthquakes is a direct result of fracking, but many state economies rely heavily on the process. While frackings impact on the environment may be apparent, some feel it is too early to simply shut down each well arbitrarily.
Americas Natural Gas Alliance, a Washington-based industry group, believe dealing with fracking regulations on a state level is the best way to address the issue. There’s close to 150,000 injections wells and the number where there’s even been a connection suggested is just a handful, spokesperson Dan Whitten said.
The question is why now, said Austin Holland, a research seismologist with the Oklahoma Geological Survey. If we start shutting down disposal wells indiscriminately its going to have a major impact on the states economy.
But proponents of stricter regulations cite Oklahoma’s biggest earthquake on record, a 5.7 magnitude quake that happened near Prague in November of 2011, as a major reason for reform. Scientists have linked the quake to wastewater wells, but Oklahomas state geological office denies the evidence is conclusive.
The Oklahoma Corporation Commission this month said well operators will have to record injection well pressure daily instead of monthly. The rule needs state Legislature approval and the signature of Governor Mary Fallin. This legislation would make Oklahoma the first state to require daily testing.
Last year in Ohio rules were put in place to ban injection wells in certain formations and allow the state to monitor seismic activity.
The lawsuit filed in Arkansas alleges damage to support beams under the plaintiffs home, prompting a dozen neighbors to file five additional lawsuits. Regulators from the Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission ordered several area wells shut down as a result. The Arkansas lawsuits are the first to link fracking and destruction from man-made earthquakes.
If your home was damaged by an earthquake caused by hyrdraulic fracking, contact our Tulsa personal injury attorneys.