Here’s a statistic that should tell you everything you need to know about what’s gone wrong with the fracking boom in America: Oklahoma now has more earthquakes than California! And that is not some freak of nature. It’s all but certain that humans are responsible:
The Sooner State may be better known for tornadoes. But since October, Oklahoma has had more quakes than California, knocking the Golden State out of first place in the lower 48 states.
It’s not even close, actually. Since Oct. 1, California has had 139 earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 or larger, according to federal data. Oklahoma has had 189.
In 2014, Oklahoma has had twice as many quakes as California, though it’s only half the size.
The U.S. Geological Survey and academic researchers have linked much of the increase in Oklahoma to deep injection of waste fluid from oil and gas production in the drilling-heavy state.
In fact, just in the last week the USGS did something that’s almost unthinkable: It issued an earthquake warning — along with local authorities — for the entire state of Oklahoma.
In a joint statement, the agencies said the risk of a damaging earthquake — one larger than magnitude 5.0 — has significantly increased in central Oklahoma.
Geologists don’t know when or where the state’s next big earthquake will strike, nor will they put a number on the increased risk. “We haven’t seen this before in Oklahoma, so we had some concerns about putting a specific number on the chances of it,” Robert Williams, a research geophysicist with the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program in Golden, Colorado, told Live Science. “But we know from other cases around the world that if you have an increasing number of small earthquakes, the chances of a larger one will go up.” [Watch 2500+ Oklahoma Earthquakes Since 2012 (Video)]
So far, Oklahoma is “lucky” — if you consider it “lucky” that the smaller earthquakes so far have caused minor damage to some homes but no major injuries. But experts believe that the risk in the region of a greater earthquake — in a region that had insignificant seismic activity before fracking came along — is growing, and that could mean significant harm. And that is not what worries me the most: What worries me the most is that fracking activities are now rising in parts of the nation that have been prone in the past to deadly earthquakes…most notably, Southern California.
Seriously, you have to wonder who thought this was a good idea: To divert literally billions of gallons of water in some of the most drought-parched regions of the United States, in the Southwest and West, then pollute that water with radiation and with fracking chemicals, and then inject it deep under the earth, where the water places intense pressure on natural fault lines.
The fracking process — an extreme measure to satisfy our addiction to fossil fuels — sounds crazy. And to do that in places like California — where naturally-caused earthquakes have in the past flattened buildings, leveled bridges and claimed scores of lives — is indeed the height of insanity. It reminds me of that commercial that was so popular on TV during my childhood: “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature.”
Check out the statistics on how Oklahoma now has more earthquakes than fault-cross-crossed California: http://www.eenews.net/stories/1059999114
Here’s more from National Geographic on the earthquake warning issued for Oklahoma: http://www.livescience.com/45361-oklahoma-earthquake-risk-rising.html
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