Ohio regulators link fracking to recent earthquakes

  • Marie Cusick

The Associated Press is reporting state geologists in Ohio have linked hydraulic fracturing to recent earthquakes, leading regulators to issue new permit conditions in certain areas that will be among the strictest in the country.
Links between oil and gas production and increased earthquake activity have usually been related to disposal of wastewater in deep injection wells–not the fracking process itself.
From the AP:

A state investigation of five small tremors in the Youngstown area, in the Appalachian foothills, last month has found the high-pressure injection of sand and water that accompanies hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in the Utica Shale may have increased pressure on a small, unknown fault, said State Oil & Gas Chief Rick Simmers. He called the link “probable.”
While earlier studies had linked earthquakes in the same region to deep-injection wells used for disposal of fracking wastewater, this marks the first time tremors have been tied directly to fracking, Simmers said. Five seismic events in March were all part of what was considered a single event and couldn’t be easily felt by people.
The state’s new permit conditions are perhaps the most cautious yet put in place in the nation, he said.
Glenda Besana-Ostman, a seismologist with the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation, confirmed the finding is the first in the region to suggest a connection between the quakes and the actual extraction of oil and gas, as opposed to wastewater disposal. A deep-injection well in the same region of Ohio was found to be the likely cause of a series of quakes in the same region of Ohio in 2012.

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