More than 2,500 small earthquakes have hit Oklahoma in the past five years, and nearly all of them can be linked to the process of drilling for oil and gas, according to a recent study published in the journal Science.
The study, led by Cornell University geophysics professor Katie Keranen, is the latest of many scientific studies showing a probable connection between earthquakes and drilling-related activity across the country. Specifically, the quakes are linked not to the fuel extraction itself, but to a process called “wastewater injection,” in which companies take the leftover water used to frack wells and inject it deep into the ground.
Scientists increasingly believe that the large amount of water that is injected into the ground after a well is fracked can change the state of stress on existing fault lines to the point of failure, causing earthquakes. Keranen’s study analyzed four prolific wastewater disposal wells in southeast Oklahoma City, which collectively inject approximately four million barrels of wastewater into the ground each month.
The research showed that fluid from those wells were migrating along fault lines for miles, and Keranen’s team determined the migration was likely responsible for earthquakes occurring as far as 22 miles away.
Anyone’s gas bill gone down? Anyone’s electric bill gone down now that plants are switching to natural gas for half the cost and twice the yield of coal? Yeah, me neither. Someone’s getting rich, though, so I guess that is all that matters. Fuck the externalities and the impact on everyone else.