Fracking not linked to earthquakes

Editor’s note: The following letter is in response to the Jan. 21-27, 2015, article “No rush for fracking in southern Illinois.”

I am the Illinois field director for Energy In Depth, a research and public education program sponsored by the Independent Petroleum Association of America.

I am contacting you regarding a story posted to your website today, Wednesday, Jan. 21.

In the final paragraph of your staff report, you state that “scientists are now convinced that fracking causes small earthquakes…” and that “fears now exist that these small earthquakes may lead to bigger quakes and fault line shifts.”

I would like to point out that several scientists — including those from the U.S. Geological Survey and National Research Council — have stated that the actual hydraulic fracturing process poses a very small risk for inducing felt seismic events. You can find a list of these scientists and their comments on the issue in a recent EID infographic link at http://energyindepth.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/EID_Low-Risk-of-Earthquakes1.pdf.

With regard to seismic activity linked to wastewater injection wells, the National Research Council has this to say:

Injection for disposal of wastewater derived from energy technologies into the subsurface does pose some risk for induced seismicity, but very few events have been documented over the past several decades relative to the large number of disposal wells in operation.” — National Research Council

It is also notable that the state with the most naturally occurring seismic activity has had zero seismic events linked to fracking and wastewater disposal.

Not only have there been no felt seismic events linked to hydraulic fracturing in California, there have also been no earthquakes linked to wastewater disposal in California. Not one!” — California State Geologist John Parrish

Horizontal high-volume fracking has been occurring in California for years, and injection wells — like in Illinois — have been used safely in California for decades. I recently wrote more about injection wells and seismicity concerns in a recent EID blog, http://energyindepth.org/illinois/fracking-illinois-top-four-myths/.

Just wanted to share some information with you that you may not have been aware of.

Thank you for your time.

Seth Whitehead
Energy In Depth Field Director for Illinois
St. Peter, Illinois

From the Feb. 4-10, 2015, issue

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