Environmentalist Standards: Pipelines Bad, Frakking Fine
The United States Geological Survey just produced a seismic hazard forecast for 2016 for the central and eastern United States that includes both induced and natural earthquakes. While almost all of the fracking-induced or triggered earthquakes are small — less than magnitude 3, which can’t be felt by most people — enough are above 3 that the USGS predicted a 5% to 17% chance of significant damage to homes and structures in just the year 2016 for areas of north-central Oklahoma and southern Kansas where fracking occurs. Presumably, this will continue each year as long as fracking continues close to the present rate.
In cases when injection of water induces earthquakes of larger magnitudes, the earthquakes are most likely the result of reactivation of nearby pre-existing faults by upsetting the subsurface pressure regimes that keep the fault closed.
The industry says nonsense, fracking has nothing to do with earthquakes, they are simply coincidental. On the other hand, scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey appear to believe on the basis of their research that it is indeed fracking that has been causing a notable uptick in seismic activity, causing understandable concern to citizens who feel themselves and their properties threatened.
Central Oklahoma has now experienced a magnitude 5.0 earthquake which has caused considerable damage to buildings in Cushing, known as the Tank Farm Capital of the World. The quake epicentre was less than two kilometres west of Cushing, itself about 80 km northeast of Oklahoma City, and felt as far away as Kansas City, Missouri, and Little Rock Arkansas. That's a quake of considerable power, unlike the many others that have shaken the earth, attributable to fracking.
The town's population of eight thousand people certainly has cause for concern given that its police department has reported "quite a bit of damage" without being too specific. A documented 19 earthquakes have occurred in the past week alone in Oklahoma, according to USGS data. And scientists have been unequivocal; there are undisputed links with the underground disposal of waste water from oil and gas fracking production.
It is interesting that fracking has made the United States independent of the need to continue accessing Middle East-derived oil and gas. Through fracking the country now has sufficient petroleum resources to respond to all its needs, available through that medium which is now causing such concern.
Oil pipelines, on the other hand, like the Keystone XL pipeline project, Canada based, meant to move Alberta oil to refineries on the American west coast, occasioned huge protests by American environmental groups which killed the project, despite the State Department having given it a clean environmental impact bill of health.
Because the XL pipeline was put to rest, Canadian-sourced oil and gas is railroaded and trucked into the U.S., a seemingly acceptable mode of transport which has proven otherwise in the past, when rail accidents have occurred, whereas it is generally acknowledged that pipelines transporting fossil fuels have far fewer incidents of spillage and consequential damage.
The U.S. is still heavily dependent on coal-fired furnaces for energy needs, an environmental contaminant of the first order.
Odd that dirty coal and dangerous fracking aren't the major focal point of American environmentalists, but the savage denunciation of Canadian oil pipelines brought out the protests in vociferous and huge numbers, to which the Obama administration bent.