"The cumulative volume of research leaves little doubt about the link between fracking and earthquakes. One point of debate that did emerge is the significant difference between how the quakes are caused in Canada and the U.S.
In Oklahoma, the earthquakes are blamed on the industry practice of injecting waste water from oil production into wells dug deep into the ground. This causes changes in underground pressure and deep underground faults to slip, resulting in earthquakes.
In Canada, the direct action of fracking is blamed, as less water is used and injected back into the ground.
University of Calgary seismologist David Eaton says in the past six years, 90 per cent of earthquakes larger than magnitude three taking place in the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin can be linked to fracking or waste water disposal. The vast majority — 62 per cent — are directly linked to fracking.
He believes that like those in Oklahoma, the earthquakes are being caused by changes in pressure underground.
Atkinson believes part of the difference between Canadian and U.S. quakes can be attributed to different geology.
"There's evidence that the types of formations that are being explored have differences that would explain why hydraulic fracturing is so much more likely to induce seismicity in Western Canada than it is in Oklahoma.""
"Once the water is sucked back out of the well, it's toxic and can't be used for anything else. And there aren't any failsafe ways to store it. "We've seen that wastewater leak from retention ponds," says Rachel Richardson, director of Environment America’s Stop Drilling program and co-author of the report. "Sometimes it's been dumped directly into streams. It's escaped from faulty wells. And that's a huge risk to our drinking water. There's really no safe or sustainable way of dealing with fracking toxic waste.""
"A survey of a major oil and natural gas-producing region in Western Canada suggests a link between hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" and induced earthquakes in the region, according to a new report published online March 29 in the journal Seismological Research Letters. "
"The study also confirmed that in the last few years nearly all the region's overall seismicity of magnitude 3 or larger has been induced by human activity. More than 60% of these quakes are linked to hydraulic fracture, about 30-35% come from disposal wells, and only 5 to 10% of the earthquakes have a natural tectonic origin, Atkinson said. "
"Fracking triggered a 4.4-magnitude earthquake in northeastern B.C. last year, CBC News has learned, making it one of world's largest earthquakes ever triggered by the controversial process.
B.C.'s Oil and Gas Commission confirmed the cause of the earthquake in an email statement to CBC this week, saying it was "triggered by fluid injection during hydraulic fracturing."
The 4.4-magnitude quake was felt in Fort St. John and Fort Nelson in August 2014. It was preceded by a 3.8-magnitude earthquake in late July, also caused by fracking.
B.C.'s Oil and Gas Commission told CBC that several companies were doing hydraulic fracturing in the area at the time, and several more were disposing of fracking waste.
But the commission says it was Progress Energy's operations that were "associated with triggering this event."
Hydraulic fracturing, often called fracking, is the process of injecting water, sand and chemicals at high pressure deep underground to break rock and free gas.
Since the 2014 earthquake, Progress Energy has been ordered to reduce the volume of fracking fluid being used, and the company has complied, according to the commission.
As well, new seismic equipment has been set up in the area. No new earthquakes have been detected in the immediate area."
"Evidence continues to mount that the natural gas supply chain carries an enormous amount of environmental baggage as well as community welfare issues.
This week was a particularly bad one for the natural gas industry, with the release of two government reports in the U.S. and one in the U.K."
"Between 1973 and 2008, the average number of earthquakes of magnitude 3 or more in the central and eastern U.S. was 21. Between 2009 and 2013, that number was 99. And last year alone, there were 659."
"Drawing a direct comparison with fracking technology chief scientist Mark Walport’s annual report said: “History presents plenty of examples of innovation trajectories that later proved to be problematic — for instance involving asbestos, benzene, thalidomide, dioxins, lead in petrol, tobacco, many pesticides, mercury, chlorine and endocrine-disrupting compounds, as well as CFCs, high-sulphur fuels and fossil fuels in general."
"The development of hydraulic fracturing technologies over the past 30 years or so has made extraction of shale gas economically feasible and attractive prices have allowed the industry to expand rapidly. An abundance of gas in the marketplace pushed down prices in 2011-2012 and the expansion of the industry has slowed somewhat. Information in the peer-reviewed scientific literature with respect to adverse environmental and health impacts from shale gas extraction is now beginning to appear. A number of these articles are available for free download and I would encourage people to read them, rather than accept the interpretations that appear in various media (or my interpretations, for that matter). It is fine to have opinions, but much better to have opinions based in verifiable data. Then we can have a rational discussion."
"The 243 cases, from 2008 to 2014, include some where a single drilling operation impacted multiple water wells. The problems listed in the documents include methane gas contamination, spills of wastewater and other pollutants, and wells that went dry or were otherwise undrinkable. Some of the problems were temporary, but the names of landowners were redacted, so it wasn't clear if the problems were resolved to their satisfaction. Other complaints are still being investigated."
Last month, the towns of Dryden and Middlefield, New York, represented by Earthjustice, triumphed over the fracking industry after the state’s highest court ruled that the towns can use local zoning laws to ban heavy industry within their borders. The ruling gives legal backing to the more than 170 New York municipalities that have passed measures to protect residents from the impacts of the controversial oil and gas development technique. It also gives a green light to the dozens of other towns in New York and elsewhere who have been waiting for today’s decision to pass their own local bans.
"“The fracking fire appears to have left a miles-long trail of death and destruction in its wake with thousands of dead fish and wildlife floating belly up in this once pristine stream,” Nathan Johnson, staff attorney for the Ohio Environmental Council. “This may be unprecedented, perhaps the biggest Ohio fish kill in memory related to the oil and gas industry.”
The fire occurred on the Eisenbarth well pad, near the West Virginia border, after fracking fluid tubes malfunctioned. The fire spread from the tubes to about 20 trucks that were lined on the pad. It could have killed the crayfish, minnows and smallmouth bass that died as far as 5 miles away from the site."
"Between 1978 and 2008, Oklahoma had just two earthquakes with a magnitude over 3.0. In 2014, thus far, there have been around 200 such earthquakes there, more even than the highly unstable state of California. (They've had 140.) Experts believe the unusual increase in earthquakes is linked to the number of wastewater wells connected to oil and gas drilling."
"In 2011, at least half the wastewater stored in Ohio came from out of state, according to the Environment Ohio Research & Policy Center. Many Ohio environmentalists object to taking other states’ waste − partly because the fracking boom has resulted in some shady practices.
“Dumping seems to be a really ongoing problem,” explains Julie Weatherington-Rice, senior scientist at Bennett & Williams Environmental Consultants in Ohio. “We’re seeing dumping down old mineshafts and dumping on roads where the spigot at the end of the tank is [allowed] to dribble all the way to the [disposal] well.”
In March, a Youngstown company admitted it had dumped thousands of gallons of waste into a stormwater sewer feeding into a river system. Testing revealed that the waste contained benzene, which is a known carcinogen, and toluene, a nervous system toxicant.
If concrete wellbores or seals at the wellhead are misaligned or corroded, methane and chemicals can migrate into potable water aquifers − something that the small town of Dimock, Pennsylvania, learned the hard way in 2009.
Most Dimock residents have individual water wells. Shortly after Cabot Oil and Gas began fracking in the area, a resident’s backyard water well exploded. After it was determined that Cabot’s operations were the source of the methane contamination, a consent agreement with the state required Cabot to supply Dimock’s drinking water.
But the state allowed Cabot to stop supplying water in 2011, without testing residents’ well water, according to a report by StateImpact, a project of National Public Radio stations."
"In central Oklahoma, a cluster of four high-volume wastewater injection wells triggered quakes up to 30 miles (about 50 kilometers) away, said lead study author Katie Keranen, a geophysicist at Cornell University in New York. The earthquakes have since spread farther outward, as fluids migrate farther from the massive injection wells, she said.
"These are some of the biggest wells in the state," Keranen said. "The pressure is high enough from the injected fluids to trigger earthquakes.""
""Making fracking safe is simply not possible, not with the current technology, or with the inadequate regulations being proposed," Louis Allstadt, former executive vice president of Mobil Oil, said during a news conference in Albany called by the anti-fracking group Elected Officials to Protect New York."
For the past four years the gas lobby has used the economic crisis in Europe to tell countries like Greece that the way out of debt and desperation is to open their beautiful and fragile seas to drilling. And it has employed similar arguments to rationalise fracking across North America and the United Kingdom.
Now the crisis du jour is conflict in Ukraine, being used as a battering ram to knock down sensible restrictions on natural gas exports and push through a controversial free-trade deal with Europe. It's quite a deal: more corporate free-trade polluting economies and more heat-trapping gases polluting the atmosphere – all as a response to an energy crisis that is largely manufactured.
Against this backdrop it's worth remembering – irony of ironies – that the crisis the natural gas industry has been most adept at exploiting is climate change itself.
Nearly half (47%) of oil and gas wells recently hydraulically fractured in the U.S. are in regions with high or extremely high water stress.
Ceres’ latest research on this topic, Hydraulic Fracturing & Water Stress: Water Demand by the Numbers, provides first-of-its-kind data on the various water sourcing risks facing oil and gas companies in 8 regions of intense shale development in the United States and Canada. It shines a spotlight on the volumes of water used for hydraulic fracturing by specific companies and puts regional industry water use into the context of local water stress, groundwater depletion and drought. It provides investors, lenders, and regulators recommendations for how oil and gas companies and their service providers can minimize their water demands and reduce their impacts on communities and the environment.
In late 2013, official documents obtained under freedom of information showed that Canada's domestic spy agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), had ramped up its surveillance of activists opposed to the Northern Gateway pipeline project on 'national security' grounds. The CSIS also routinely passed information about such groups to the project's corporate architect, Calgary-based energy company, Enbridge.
Fracking wells generally consume between 2 and 10 million gallons of water in their lifetime. If every potential well in California identified by the U.S. Energy Information Agency were to be fracked, some 5 billion gallons of water would be required, according to Oil Change International.
Polls show Californians oppose expanded fracking in the Golden State and 65 percent of Californians say the state should act immediately to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
The companies that once operated the wells have all but vanished into the prairie, many seeking bankruptcy protection and unable to pay the cost of reclaiming the land they leased. Recent estimates have put the number of abandoned drilling operations in Wyoming at more than 1,200, and state officials said several thousand more might soon be orphaned by their operators.