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National study suggests that 5.7-magnitude quake was caused by wastewater injection (manmade)

A report by a team of prestigious scientific experts has rebuked an Oklahoma state-sponsored report claiming that wastewater injection over the last few decades had nothing to do with a record-setting earthquake centered in Prague, Oklahoma.

I. Paid-Off State Officials: Injection is Harmless

Fracking and pressurized injections of wastewater from traditional wells in Oklahoma's Wilzetta oil fields began in the 1990s.  The controversial resource extraction technique involves injecting pressurized sand, water, and chemicals into shale formations, triggering the release of oil and natural gas that otherwise would be hard to extract.

Energy giants like Chesapeake Energy Corp. (CHK), OGE Energy Corp. (OGE) Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM), NextEra Energy, Inc. (NEE), and Devon Energy Corp. (DVN) have made billions in revenue from the process.  However, critics -- including some prominent scientists -- have criticized the process, claiming it creates seismic instability and may contaminate local water supplies.  Those claims seemed prophetic when Oklahoma, a top fracking/wastewater injection state, was hit with a rash of uncharacteristic earthquakes which culminated in a magnitude 5.7 earthquake in 2011 which destroyed 14 homes.

Still, Oklahoma politicians and state-appointed scientists have defended the process.  In a 2011 report entitled "Response to Attacks on Hydraulic Fracturing", the Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC) and Oklahoma Geological Survey (OGS) defend the process of fracking/wastewater injection.  

And in a separate study, dubbed the "OGS Prague Statement" [PDF], they directly address claims that pressurized injections into sealed wells caused the quake, suggesting instead that it was caused by a segment of the Wilzetta Fault which was "favorably orientated for earthquakes."  They cite other studies suggesting that such "swarms" of earthquakes are often naturally occurring along fault lines.

II. Following the Monetary Stench

But state politicians who appoint the OGS scientists and OCC officials may have a bit of a vested interest.  Chesapeake Energy, OGE Energy, Devon Energy, and others have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to roll both state and federal Republicans in Oklahoma into office.

Thanks in part to their deep pockets, Republicans own a healthy majority in Oklahoma's legislature.  And the oil industry's "hired help" appears eager to repay the favor.

U.S. Rep. James Lankford received $24,300 USD from Devon Energy, $22,250 USD from OGE Energy, and an additional $113,800 from other oil and natural gas extraction companies, according to OpenSecrets. Sen. James M. Inhofe received a whopping $537,750 USD from oil and natural gas firms.


Here's the contact info for those gentlemen:

U.S. Rep. James Lankford:
Local Phone 405-234-9900 / D.C. Phone 202-225-2132
U.S. Sen James M. Inhofe
Local Phone 405-608-4381 / D.C. Phone (202) 224-4721

Here's a summary of the special interest payouts to the top state-level politicians from the Republican majority:

Oklahoma state republicans
(Click to enlarge)

Notice that every major leader in the state house and senate was paid off by the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Assoc. (OIPA)-- a pro-oil industry group -- and every politician also received healthy contributions from several other oil and natural gas firms.  (Source:

Here's the contact info for those gentlemen:
Sen. Brian Bingman (R, president pro tempore)
Local phone (405) 521-5528 / State capital phone (918) 227-1856
Sen. Mike Schulz (R, majority floor leader)
Local phone (405) 521-5612 / State capital phone N/A
Rep. T.W. Shannon (R, speaker of the house)
Local phone (405) 557-7374 / Asst. Phone (405) 557-7374 
Rep. Mike Jackson (R, speaker pro tempore)
Local phone (405) 557-7317/ Asst. Phone (405) 557-7317

The OIPA's mission statement basically acknowledges that its mission is to pay off polticians, writing:

The OIPA is committed to promoting the interests and welfare of independent oil and gas operators, working interest owners, royalty owners, and those businesses who provide services for the energy industry. Specifically, the association strives to provide its members with outstanding legislative and regulatory representation. 

In a recent post it gripes, "Since President Obama’s election to office in 2008, the nation’s oil and natural gas producers have faced constant scrutiny from the federal regulatory agencies under White House control."

III. Unbiased Research Contradicts Oil-Industry Funded Findings

So the oil companies paid the politicians, and the politicians hired scientists and appointed officials who were willing to claim fracking/wastewater injection is safe.  But what do unbiased national scientists say?

The answer came in a peer-reviewed study published [abstract] in the journal Geology, which rebukes the biased reports from state-sponsored researchers.  The new article entitled "Potentially induced earthquakes in Oklahoma, USA: Links between wastewater injection and the 2011 Mw 5.7 earthquake sequence' was written by Prof. Katie M. Keranen of the Univ. of OklahomaProf. Heather M. Savage and Prof. Geoffrey A. Abers of Columbia Univ., and Dr. Elizabeth S. Cochran of the US Geological Survey (USGS).

It finds:

We use the aftershocks to illuminate the faults that ruptured in the sequence, and show that the tip of the initial rupture plane is within ∼200 m of active injection wells and within ∼1 km of the surface; 30% of early aftershocks occur within the sedimentary section. Subsurface data indicate that fluid was injected into effectively sealed compartments, and we interpret that a net fluid volume increase after 18 yr of injection lowered effective stress on reservoir-bounding faults. Significantly, this case indicates that decades-long lags between the commencement of fluid injection and the onset of induced earthquakes are possible, and modifies our common criteria for fluid-induced events. The progressive rupture of three fault planes in this sequence suggests that stress changes from the initial rupture triggered the successive earthquakes, including one larger than the first.

In other words, it traces the earthquakes to sealed well sites near their epicenter, which were injected with toxic pressurized wastewater from the oil extraction process.  

The study finds that wastewater injection-- injecting pressurized liquid to extract deep oil/natural gas deposits -- destabilizes local sediments and likely caused seismic activity.

Note, that while the study does not directly implicate fracking (which involves fluid injection as well), it does raise concerns about the the process, as it implicates similar wastewater injections in creating seismic activity.

The authors determined that the volume of the sealed wells changed over time, causing stress that appears to have triggered at least two quakes of magnitude of 5.0, and then the biggest quake -- a magnitude of 5.7.  These quakes were felt in 17 states.

Fluid injection in the wastewater wells began after 1993, according to the current paper and the authors suggest the risk could have been adverted if the well owners had followed the criteria for injection established by Davis and Frohlich (1993), which suggests locating injection wells away from seismic faults.

The findings correspond to a previous 2011 report [PDF] by the US National Research Council (NRC), which showed that fracking caused smaller quakes (although failing to definitively show whether or not it caused larger quakes).  A 2012 USGS report also links fracking to earthquakes.

Note that the difference between fracking injection and wastewater injection is that fracking typically injects the pressurized fluid deeper under the ground, so more research is needed to determine just how much commonality in seismic risk there is between the two practices.

IV. Lawsuits, Legal Challenges to Future Fracking Loom

The study raises serious questions.

First, given the blatant payouts to state politicians by oil and gas interests, it seems pretty interesting that an unbiased team of experts would come to the conclusion that wastewater injection did cause the earthquakes, while a team of state-sponsored researchers whose pay is dependent on politicians paid by special interests would claim that it wasn't the cause.

Aside from questions of scientific integrity regarding the researchers at the OGS/OCC, the report also raises questions of liability.  If the quakes were indeed directly correlated to the wastewater injection processes and the causative mechanism was properly determined in the new report, then homeowners or business owners whose properties were damaged could (in theory) sue NextEra Energy, Chesapeake Energy, Exxon Mobil, Devon Energy, OGE Energy, et al. for damages.

Fracking regions
Fracking projects are being considered in a number of states.
[Image Source: U.S. Energy Information Agency]

Of course don't be surprised if state politicians try to author some sort of legislation to exempt their energy industry "sponsors" from such litigation, given that they already appear to have tried to cover up the damage done.

The report is also of keen interest as various other states, such as Illinois and Pennsylvania are considering new fracking or wastewater injection projects or expanding existing ones.  Overseas in England, fracking/wastewater injection is also a major topic of debate, where special interests are similarly trying to sway the discussion.

The new study is critical as it's the most definitive, clear, and detailed document to date indicating that fluid injection can cause seismic activity.  Citizens in states with fracking or wastewater injection projects should consider this carefully.  

If earthquakes occur, consider suing your local oil and gas companies for damages -- science supports you.  And in the meantime look into (on VoteSmart or other sources), which of your local politicians are taking money from big oil and gas companies -- the results may surprise and disturb you.

In all though, this shouldn't be terribly surprising -- a recent University of Kansas School of Business study [PDF] revealed that for $1 given to a federal politician as a business, you get $243 USD in kickbacks -- either indirectly (via lesser taxation) or directly siphoned off citizens taxes.

An earlier version of the story erroneously refered to the wastewater as being from fracking, where as the wastewater that researchers suggest caused the quakes was, in fact, from traditional drilling.  Several other publications -- including a Wired piece on the topic make similar errors or offer somewhat ambiguous statements -- and remain uncorrected.  

Nonetheless, the issue of cash payments to state legislators to allow injection/fracking remains, as does the issues surrounding special-interest endorsed research that suggested the quakes to have occurred naturally (when they appear to be energy-industry/wastewater caused).

Sources: Geology [abstract], VoteSmart, Opensecrets [campaign funding info], OCC [PDF]

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14 homes versus Billions...
By stm1185 on 3/28/2013 3:17:32 PM , Rating: 4
Have the Companies pay double what the homes were worth, and call it a day.

RE: 14 homes versus Billions...
By Samus on 3/28/2013 3:21:09 PM , Rating: 3
For the most part, I agree. Natural gas is at the lowest price ever and if they can keep up a steady supply it does make a practical fuel for even automobiles (although the range is usually around 175 miles/tank.) It beats the hell out of electricity and hydrogen as a low-cost fuel.

RE: 14 homes versus Billions...
By Mint on 4/1/2013 1:50:27 PM , Rating: 2
Even better to do this for trucks, buses, and trains, which often refuel at centralized locations (as opposed to home compressors with complicated install for light duty cars) and can accommodate large tanks more easily into their design.

RE: 14 homes versus Billions...
By kleinma on 3/28/2013 3:24:45 PM , Rating: 2
Tell that to the people who haven't lost their homes, but get flammable drinking water from their faucets... What kind of day do you call that?

By ClownPuncher on 3/28/2013 3:31:03 PM , Rating: 2
A fartwater day.

RE: 14 homes versus Billions...
By ebakke on 3/28/2013 3:34:11 PM , Rating: 3
Honest question: How often does this happen? Are we talking about 1 well, ever? Or every 3rd well?

RE: 14 homes versus Billions...
By DiscoWade on 3/28/2013 3:48:56 PM , Rating: 2
Please read this link about flammable drinking water:

RE: 14 homes versus Billions...
By Flunk on 3/28/2013 4:34:06 PM , Rating: 2
Double the value of my property? I'd say cha-ching and move.

RE: 14 homes versus Billions...
By Spuke on 3/28/2013 5:01:03 PM , Rating: 2
Double the value of my property? I'd say cha-ching and move.
I'd be out within 30 days.

RE: 14 homes versus Billions...
By stm1185 on 3/29/2013 6:40:02 PM , Rating: 1
Tell the people who lost their homes they are getting double its value, and can move. While the Energy company now gets land that they cant really do anything with until they fix the water supply.

Yeah I have to think the people would be very happy.

RE: 14 homes versus Billions...
By Hakuryu on 3/28/2013 3:37:52 PM , Rating: 3
It's 14 homes now, and perhaps thousands of homes, including yours, later. Or could it never happen again? Let me call the gas company and ask.

RE: 14 homes versus Billions...
By stm1185 on 3/29/2013 6:36:58 PM , Rating: 3
Im in CA, I've been in Earthquakes. It's really not a big deal if you build and plan properly. It's 2013, our engineers are bad asses, we can build homes that wont fall apart.

The economic benefit of fraking is so great that any and all damages can be covered. The geopolitical advantages of it are also huge. We shouldn't abandon a way for America to become the world's largest energy producer due to fear over earthquakes.

RE: 14 homes versus Billions...
By kilkennycat on 3/29/2013 8:08:15 PM , Rating: 2
Do you have earthquake insurance ?

Maybe the oil and gas companies should cover the additional earthquake insurance for all houses with 20 miles of an active fracking area, with a guarantee of continuous renewal as long as the house exists. Exception, no company coverage in an area with a known history of earthquakes, e.g: CA, OR, WA. Free coverage with a deductible of (say) $10,000 max would be a fair sharing of risk with the homeowner. There should be no reason why the homeowner should pick up any of the tab in an area traditionally free of earthquakes. Just an incidental cost of "doing business", probably deductible against corporate tax.

RE: 14 homes versus Billions...
By Schadenfroh on 3/29/2013 12:33:08 PM , Rating: 2
Far more homes / properties were destroyed to complete the interstate highway system and other such achievements.

Look past the narrow vision promoted by Luddites masquerading as anti-corporatists and environmentalists, Hydraulic Fracturing and Horizontal Drilling are monumental leaps in energy exploration technology and well worth the drawbacks. As long as the folks who lose their homes are well compensated, such is the price of progress. Remember, we do not own our land, we lease it from the government via property taxes and they can revoke our lease for the common good at anytime using eminent domain.

These energy companies are promoting the general welfare by facilitating much lower energy prices (fewer poor families will have to live in cold homes in the winter) AND providing for the common defense (furthering energy independence from foreign powers).

I call BS - Petroleum Engineer
By Captain Orgazmo on 3/28/2013 5:44:33 PM , Rating: 5
I work in oil and gas and my background is Petroleum Engineering. Fracking at 5000+ ft deep cannot "destabilize local sediments." That is a mile down, separated from the surface (and fresh water table) by hundreds of layers of solid rock.

Fracking fluid can and will find its way into existing faults and allow slippage caused by natural stresses. If fracking had anything to do with the quake, it more than likely relieved stress on the fault saving the area from a more violent earthquake later.

RE: I call BS - Petroleum Engineer
By chrnochime on 3/29/2013 3:49:30 PM , Rating: 1
Of course you say it's safe. You have a vested interest in saying so, since you WORK for them. Who in their right mind would bite the hand that feeds. Come back and when you don't work for one of these companies.

RE: I call BS - Petroleum Engineer
By someguy123 on 3/30/2013 12:52:04 AM , Rating: 2
That logic makes no sense. It's like if I went for a checkup and said "Of course I have cancer, since you get PAID if I go through chemo. Call me again when you're no longer practicing." Didn't work too well for steve jobs.

By Captain Orgazmo on 3/30/2013 7:53:22 AM , Rating: 2
I actually LOL'd at that, nice. Does that make me evil?...

By Captain Orgazmo on 3/30/2013 7:45:28 AM , Rating: 5
Hydraulic fracturing has been used by the industry for half a century. You've not heard about it until now because new directional well drilling techniques and technology have unlocked oil and gas reserves in North America that dwarf those known elsewhere in the world.

This is a direct threat to the interests of the OPEC nations, Russia, and whoever else does not desire North American energy sovereignty. Hence the recent attack on fracking, a specific oilfield process unknown to average people.

Foreign funded PR firms and lobbyists easily whip up gullible mobs of anti-everything luddites and professional protestors, and the media and Hollywood useful idiots happily pile on. Then the rest of the moron population laps up the sensationalist crap, understanding only the worst 1% of it, and here I am on the internet arguing with some silly twat living a cushy petroleum enabled existence, and I remember, you just can't cure stupid.

By Integral9 on 4/1/2013 12:18:26 PM , Rating: 2
Placebeoing it as a "relief" quake doesn't make me happier when that "relief" quake was a 5.7. Unless you can control the strength of the "relief" quake I am not sleeping better at night.

RE: I call BS - Petroleum Engineer
By Mint on 4/1/2013 2:00:01 PM , Rating: 2
Fracking at 5000+ ft deep cannot "destabilize local sediments." That is a mile down, separated from the surface (and fresh water table) by hundreds of layers of solid rock.
FYI, you're making the wrong argument here. 99% of earthquakes originate 10+ miles below the surface. You should be pointing out that fracking is too shallow to cause significant earthquakes.

By Captain Orgazmo on 4/2/2013 5:42:28 AM , Rating: 2
Good point.

The whole issue is so politicized and blown out of proportion it becomes ridiculous when taken in the larger view. Reminds me of another fashionable hysteria that directly targets the hydrocarbon sector.

You are pathetic
By superflex on 3/28/13, Rating: 0
RE: You are pathetic
By JasonMick on 3/28/2013 4:09:03 PM , Rating: 4
You'll be lucky not to be sued over that bit of libel.
Maybe you can use your wannabe superpowers to next investigate how many members of congress took payments from Big Pharma and insurance companies to get the health care bill passed.
Cash for legislation is an effective payment. If you want to try to censor my Constitutionally protected free speech as a journalist and sue me, feel free to.

I will look forward to the national media attention you will bring to my publication and the issue at hand; I am confident in my rights and that the court system will uphold them if someone tries to censor me.
Maybe you can use your wannabe superpowers to next investigate how many members of congress took payments from Big Pharma and insurance companies to get the health care bill passed.
Sure... your point being?

My opinion is that virtually every politician on a federal scale is corrupt. I have yet to research a politician on a federal level who has not accepted what appears to be campaign contribution cash for votes on special interest issues (or pork amendments to bills).

The scale of corruption on a state and federal level in this country is stunning.

Your deflection does little to change the fact that the issues raised in this article are valid.

I commend you for pointing out other instances of corruption, but don't stick your head in the sand to protect your favored party.

Face it -- both sides are corrupt. And they are such because the masses and mass media allow them to be. I'm working -- to the best of my capacity -- to change that.

Perhap's you'd enjoy my recent piece where I suggest President Obama be impeached for similar payola more favorable?

Don't be mad, friend.

RE: You are pathetic
By retrospooty on 3/28/2013 5:26:15 PM , Rating: 5
"virtually every politician on a federal scale is corrupt. I have yet to research a politician on a federal level who has not accepted what appears to be campaign contribution cash for votes on special interest issues (or pork amendments to bills).

The scale of corruption on a state and federal level in this country is stunning."

Exactly. and they have the dull masses fighting over "left vs. right" and "Liberal vs. Conservative", when they are all in it together and robbing us blind.

RE: You are pathetic
By Reclaimer77 on 3/28/13, Rating: 0
RE: You are pathetic
By ebakke on 3/28/2013 6:01:10 PM , Rating: 2

RE: You are pathetic
By GotThumbs on 3/28/13, Rating: -1
RE: You are pathetic
By Darksurf on 3/28/13, Rating: -1
RE: You are pathetic
By retrospooty on 3/28/2013 7:37:10 PM , Rating: 4
"When corrupt Republicans run the show, things go smoother."

Smooth like 2000-2008? Dood, they are all the same crap. Both sides are spending our money like it comes from an endless fountain. How well things went under Clinton and how massively badly they fell apart under Bush kind of blows that theory out of the water. I think we both agree Obama is worse than both Clinton and Bush combined, but they are all the same. Complete and total BS.

RE: You are pathetic
By Armageddonite on 3/28/2013 7:49:18 PM , Rating: 2
Case in point, regarding Retro's comment about taking sides and fighting blindly. You can't even pretend to be fair and unbiased can you? The facts of the matter include: (1) a number of Republican politicians are on record as having received money from the oil/gas companies, and (2) those same Republicans are advocates on those companies' behalf, sponsoring their efforts and helping to hide the negative aspects using their paid experts.

Once again, I must point out that one person's misdeeds do not justify anyone else's; bringing up the whole "but the other guys do it too" thing is childish.

And as I recall, budget cuts and slack regulation were what made the country "turn to crap" most recently. Under the watch of a Republican president, I might add.

RE: You are pathetic
By Reclaimer77 on 3/28/13, Rating: -1
RE: You are pathetic
By Armageddonite on 3/28/2013 8:11:26 PM , Rating: 2
There's nothing in this story that involves Democrats being directly involved, so I can't blindly defend them the way you do the Republicans. Not that I would, because I place blame where blame is due. And the blame in this case rests rather squarely on the Republicans who were directly involved in promoting these fracking efforts and then fabricating false science to cover it up. It has nothing to do with the president, whose current shame-game politics are reducing our global dignity, or the Democratic congresspeople who shy away from upholding their philosophical ideals based on Twitter trends.

And bravo for dredging up as many Conserva-quips as you possibly could in your thoroughly enlightened response. Is there a website with an algorithm that generates these cute terms you so thoroughly enjoy? It takes a lot of Kool-Aid to see the world in terms of soundbites and slogans.

RE: You are pathetic
By Reclaimer77 on 3/29/13, Rating: -1
RE: You are pathetic
By GotThumbs on 3/28/13, Rating: -1
RE: You are pathetic
By croc on 3/29/2013 12:05:01 AM , Rating: 2
Perhaps it would be good if you clarified what your working definition of corruption is.

By GotThumbs on 3/28/2013 6:24:22 PM , Rating: 5
prestigious scientific experts

Yeah, Right.

I guess they stayed at a Holiday Inn Express the night before also?

How is this "Story" Tech related anyway?

Seems more like sensationalism than a tech related article.....someone must be bucking for a job at CNN IMO.

By Alexvrb on 3/31/2013 11:20:25 PM , Rating: 2
Truly a sad return to the Mick of old. You're on the wrong side of the facts again, Jason.

By JPForums on 4/1/2013 9:20:40 AM , Rating: 2
You can read the agenda right in the title:
Science Says Oil Waste Caused Record OK Quake, Paid-Off Politicians Say Otherwise
He then goes on to say that it wasn't in fact the politicians, but the OGS scientist and the OCC officials who make the claim, not the state politicians who appoint them. Interesting that you don't get there until the fourth paragraph.

He then points out, quite correctly a potential for conflict of interest:
But state politicians who appoint the OGS scientists and OCC officials may have a bit of a vested interest. Chesapeake Energy, OGE Energy, Devon Energy, and others have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to roll both state and federal Republicans in Oklahoma into office.
Unfortunately, he completely forgets (purposely avoids?) to mention a few extremely relevant facts: Fracking and waste water injection (the focus of his "unbiased" study) are very different in both method and purpose. The first point of interest is that fracking is carried out almost an order of magnitude deeper in the earth than this study is focused on. There are hundreds of layers of impermeable rock that aren't present in the referenced study.

Finally, while I completely agree with his assessment that the OGS/OCC studies have a political bias, I find it rather disingenuous to claim an opposing study by government funded institutions and universities has any less of a potential to be biased. Also note, having a bias doesn't make facts any less facts. It just means the results of the study and how they are presented need to be evaluated with more skepticism. I would suggest a heavy does of skepticism for both sides of this topic. (Particularly when one study is only loosely related to the topic in the first place.)

Science says
By The Imir of Groofunkistan on 3/28/2013 4:57:29 PM , Rating: 5
Science says nothing of the sort. What a horrible title. A scientific paper says "Potentially induced earthquakes in Oklahoma, USA."

po·ten·tial·ly [puh-ten-shuh-lee]
capable of being or becoming but not yet in existence

Where to begin?
By Graviton on 3/28/2013 11:01:06 PM , Rating: 5
Is this a news site or a conspiracy site? This article is seriously looney.

1) Bringing up fracking almost exclusively when the story has zero to do with fracking... ???

2) Saying that politicians did whatever you think they shouldn't have done because of some arbitrary campaign contribution that were made... Contributions come in from people on every side of every issue. It's one of the pinnacles of sloppy journalism to start making wild inferences regarding cherry-picked campaign contributions.

You mean, someone who contributed to a politician has a *gasp* opinion on an issue?? Oh no! Oh god save us! How could this be?! Did you notice how much they raised? That's a rounding error compared to the total.

Frankly, I would be shocked if the mix of the corporate campaign donors wasn't representative of the types of companies that have the largest presence in that particular district. How could it possibly be otherwise? Where else did you expect corporate contributions to come from?

3) Saying that OK votes Republican because of money spent on campaigns... Really? Are you kidding? Yes, I'm sure they are all secretly raging communists who can't express themselves at the polls do to that evil, evil money that's involved somewhere.. in some way.. with something.

4) As noted elsewhere, OK has a lot of wells. A lot. A quake starting somewhere in the vicinity of a well isn't that shocking. That doesn't prove or disprove anything, but it's something to keep in mind.

5) While it's true that the discussed procedure could potentially change the makeup of stresses and pressures in the area around the well, the issue needs much more study than a single quake event.

6) Even if there truly is a link between wastewater injection and earthquakes, it can only accomplish this by releasing energy at fault lines that has already been built up by natural geological processes. In other words, it can't "create" quakes but it can trigger them early. That's a really good thing. The ability to intentionally release fault stresses in the form of mild quakes instead of waiting for a major disaster to strike could save countless lives and structures. Imagine a future where we take an active role in managing the stress levels at fault lines near major population centers around the world. Either way, I can't see a down side to the procedure.

One more point
By bbcdude on 3/29/2013 12:20:30 AM , Rating: 5
For those that can't be bothered to understand an issue before making up their mind, this is absolutely irrelevant to frakking in any way shape or form.

Frakking injects material into the ground at a high pressure for a very short period of time, only long enough to allow sand to fill some cracks and open gas/oil pathways nearby the hole.

Wastewater injection uses long term fluid injection to raise the pressure in an existing oilfield to compensate for drops in pressure from removed oil through wells. It keep the pressure up for extended periods of time, the field where I live has been injecting for 60 years.

Additionally wastewater injection rarely raises pressure above the original cavity pressure before oil extraction.

Blog Post
By ebakke on 3/28/2013 5:08:40 PM , Rating: 4
Given the extensive hyperbole and loaded language, I kept thinking "this is a blog post, not a news article."

How about just filtering the water?
By toyotabedzrock on 3/30/2013 1:02:26 AM , Rating: 2
Why not just filter or reuse the water?

By Captain Orgazmo on 3/30/2013 8:13:53 AM , Rating: 2
Oil and gas bearing formations are usually full of saltwater from the time they were deposited under the sea millions of years ago. After you separate the hydrocarbons from the water, the best place for it is back down where it's from. Often extra water is also pumped down to replace the removed oil and gas and maintain formation pressure.

By bbcdude on 3/29/2013 12:07:38 AM , Rating: 3
They claim they can tell that the injection caused the quake with delayed reactions of 5-20 years.....yup. If you believe that then you might as well start calling your version of science a faith. How people can buy this kind of on demand "research" is beyond me. But as long as the majority can't be bothered to read past the press releases, I guess science will continue it's fall into complete obscurity behind all the agenda driven junk science. It's reached the point of pathetic. People are going to completely lose their trust in science and it's gonna be their own dam fault. Sad for people that actually want science to advance mankind instead of using it only as a tool advance agendas.

By GotThumbs on 3/28/2013 6:39:22 PM , Rating: 2
a recent University of Kansas School of Business study [PDF]

You reference a University of Kansas business school study? And the PDF link (Journal of Law and Politics Forthcoming 2010 Alexander Lobbying ROI)is broken also.

"Science" doesn't say anything
By wookie1 on 3/28/2013 7:57:34 PM , Rating: 2
Science doesn't say anything, scientists do. Research needs to be reviewed and skeptical arguments rebutted before it can be accepted. We'll see if this holds. I know that there was a problem with the claims about fracking causing flammable drinking water in some areas when it was discovered that the water was flammable well before fracking started.

So long and thanks for all the fish
By mike66 on 3/28/2013 8:03:02 PM , Rating: 2
Jason, thanks for the article, illuminating. Keep going as it's worth while. Most people don't realize that there is no such thing as "fact's" and that really it should be called "consensus theory". If the process of forming that theory is corrupted by outside stimulus ( in this case money ) then the results corrupt the conclusion. As to the politics you are probably more than correct, it's a shame that society has allowed the legal system to judge morals, as morals are based on emotion and the legal system eliminates those and is also influenced by money. It would seem that collusion is excepted by today's society but in a moral sense it would be called corruption.

By WinstonSmith on 3/29/2013 10:15:36 AM , Rating: 2
Besides earthquakes, someday they'll suddenly discover that the chemicals pumped into the ground during fracking do manage to enter the water table and we'll have destroyed water tables all over the country. Just a hunch based on past corporate histories.

By toyotabedzrock on 3/30/2013 1:46:44 AM , Rating: 2
Forgot to ask if the party democrats are paid off as well? Generally when it gets this bad it is not a single party issue.

Also OK has for decades had more registered democrats than Republicans. And until 2008 it was a massive majority. I guess they just haven't bothered to show up for the past 50 years to vote. Back in the 70s it was 2 to 1 democrats but Gop was winning in votes.

By Cluebat on 3/30/2013 3:46:48 PM , Rating: 2
Your bias is showing.

How about a study of the money connected to green activism, eh?

Green. The new red.

Maybe this is genius!
By omgwtf8888 on 4/2/2013 11:46:20 AM , Rating: 2
Ok here is a fact! There was a fault, that, like all faults will eventually shift and cause an earthquake. The longer the fault builds up energy the worse the earthquake when it releases. What if by injecting all of these fluids the Frackers essentially greased the wheels of the fault and caused a earthquake to happen sooner but a far less magnitude. Maybe this is the technology that saves Japan and California. Maybe we should be looking at taking some steam/pressure out of the super volcano that is growing in Yellowstone and turn it into energy before it blows. Genius comes in all shapes and sizes and comes from places you least expect.

By wongmama on 4/2/2013 4:08:13 PM , Rating: 2
other comments have supported buy out the homeowners and/or build earthquake-proof houses as a solution.i was a renter in a duplex built in 1925 when the 5.7 magnitude event happened.the building did everything but tango out into the street.both wall and foundation cracks were numerous.landlord raised rent $150 a month,so i insurance was collected or collectable.large economic loss was a direct result of the advanced pregnancy of a bride,this is a fact known to all in oklahoma,but spoken of by few.

By TheEinstein on 3/28/2013 4:25:16 PM , Rating: 1
And I can prove a number of them have caused deliberate physical harm to others and that most of their claims are lies. and

Man Made Global Warming and Now Man Made Earthquakes
By Arsynic on 3/29/13, Rating: -1
Source was not fracking
By energyindepth on 3/28/13, Rating: -1
RE: Source was not fracking
By superflex on 3/28/13, Rating: -1
RE: Source was not fracking
By messele on 3/28/13, Rating: -1
RE: Source was not fracking
By TheEinstein on 3/28/13, Rating: 0
RE: Source was not fracking
By JasonMick on 3/28/2013 4:01:57 PM , Rating: 2
The scientists did not actually link fracking to the earthquakes as your story claims, nor did they rebuke prior researching disavowing a link. The scientists who published the report in Geology linked wastewater injection to the seismic events, and the wastewater came from conventional oil wells that were not hydraulically fractured.
The wastewater may have been from traditional sources, but it implies that fluid injections can cause seismic activity. The other studies I link to implicate fracking in smaller quakes.

The wastewater injection is still on the shoulders of the oil industry which you represent. If the study's results are not disproved, it would suggest your clients may have substantial liability regarding seismic activity damage near closed wells, correct??

I agree there's great financial gains to be had for oil extraction, but if the gains outweigh the costs, wouldn't it be better to let the merits of the process stand on their own and not pay off local politicians as the money trail clearly shows??

RE: Source was not fracking
By energyindepth on 3/28/13, Rating: -1
RE: Source was not fracking
By JasonMick on 3/28/2013 4:49:38 PM , Rating: 3
Thanks for the reply and headline adjustment Jason. However, your story still leads with this:

"National study suggests that 5.7-magnitude quake was caused by fracking"

Fixed, thanks!

I appreciate the need for clarity, so I appreciate the clarification regarding fracking injection versus wastewater.

That said, I hope you can appreciate that your comments raise more questions/concerns as to why a practice the industry has long known/considered to be dangerous was done as recently as a decade ago, causing substantial damage.
We do not dispute the fact that wastewater injection has been linked to seismic activity.
But the study states that the injection occurred between 1993 and 2002 (see graph, page 4 of Geology paper).

If the practice would knowingly create seismic instability, why did the well owner(s) (the paper does not clearly identify them) seek to inject near a seismic fault and why did state officials grant a permit to do so?

You say this has been known since the 1960s to be a destructive process, but as recently as 2002, industry sources were pumping wastewater into the wells in OK. How do you justify that?
Bill Ellsworth, lead geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey: "We find no evidence that fracking is related to the occurrence of earthquakes that people are feeling."

Ellsworth, again: "We don’t see any connection between fracking and earthquakes of any concern to society." (subs. req'd)

National Research Council: "The process of hydraulic fracturing a well as presently implemented for shale gas recovery does not pose a high risk for inducing felt seismic events."

Thanks so much for your time and willingness to discuss this, Jason. Really appreciate it.
True, but the recent study suggests that it make take decades for the expansion of sealed deposits.

From my understanding post-fracking, the void is filled with pressurized fluid, correct? So doesn't it stand to reason that fracking (a relatively new process) could potentially pose similar dangers to wastewater injection, years down the road?

Either way it sounds like you agree wastewater injection is a bad idea -- so why are companies applying for wastewater injection permits and injecting near known fault lines?

And why isn't the industry releasing a statement clearly elucidating who the companies/individuals responsible for this known bad practice are, if indeed it is considered as such (as your comment suggests).


RE: Source was not fracking
By energyindepth on 3/28/13, Rating: 0
RE: Source was not fracking
By taichou on 3/28/2013 6:18:08 PM , Rating: 2
Thank you Steve and Jason. It was a pleasure to read informed debate from both sides of the issue without this devolving into partisan yelling.

RE: Source was not fracking
By Belard on 3/28/2013 10:34:38 PM , Rating: 2
Aa you say...the fracking is fine. But the most profitable industry (which gets handouts) should be 200% responsible for the damage they cause. I'm in Dallas and last year... We had an earthquake.

RE: Source was not fracking
By BRB29 on 3/29/2013 2:26:04 PM , Rating: 2
I'm sure the scientists at USGS will disagree with you. Please feel free to contact the USGS for confirmation.

RE: Source was not fracking
By Reclaimer77 on 3/28/13, Rating: -1
RE: Source was not fracking
By sulu1977 on 3/29/2013 12:49:49 PM , Rating: 3
Reclaimer, you need to go home and relax. A tree hug and a glass of prune juice will help. You sound like a right-wing nut case trying desperately to convince the world that clean industry is bad and dirty industry is good. Your statements are so ridiculous it's laughable to any thinking person.

RE: Source was not fracking
By Spuke on 3/29/2013 2:39:03 PM , Rating: 2
I haven't seen you post anything that refutes his claims though so if his statements are ridiculous, so are yours. Saying someone is wrong without actually stating why holds no more weight than the other person that states he's right. It only shows that you have a larger ego.

RE: Source was not fracking
By Solandri on 3/28/2013 10:49:55 PM , Rating: 2
The wastewater may have been from traditional sources, but it implies that fluid injections can cause seismic activity. The other studies I link to implicate fracking in smaller quakes.

Whoa whoa whoa, slow down. Conservation of energy still applies. For fluid injections and fracking to cause seismic activity, you have to use as much energy during the injection/fracking as is released during the quake. That's a ludicrous assertion.

The energy is already there, stored as stresses in the rocks by movement of the North American plate. Fluid injection may lubricate a portion of it and release that energy sooner, but that just means that energy is no longer around to be released in the future in a naturally-occurring quake. i.e. Bunch of small quakes now = no big quake in the future. It's the exact same principle used when they shoot cannons at mountainsides to trigger small avalanches - releasing the snow in small avalanches prevents a big natural avalanche in the future.

The only human activity of this sort which causes earthquakes (as in more quake energy is released than would have been released naturally) is draining groundwater and oil reservoirs. e.g. If you drain an underground cavern, that lowers the potential energy floor, essentially "raising" the above rocks and "giving" them more energy to release by falling into the now-vacated cavern.

RE: Source was not fracking
By Captain Orgazmo on 3/30/2013 8:38:35 AM , Rating: 2
Your logic is mostly sound, only oil and gas isn't found in caverns. Think of rock like a sponge, full of water, oil, and gases. The rock is still there after the oil or whatever is removed (and just a fraction of the total amount can ever actually be recovered); nothing can collapse.

You are right about the fracking or fluid injection being able to lubricate existing faults. Micro-quakes are common, usually too small to notice, never more severe than what you feel when a big truck or train goes by.

"Well, there may be a reason why they call them 'Mac' trucks! Windows machines will not be trucks." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer

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