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June 18, 2012

Report Ties Fracking Activity to Earthquakes

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These sites in the United States and Canada have documented reports of seismic activity caused by or likely related to energy development from a variety of technologies.

On Friday, the National Research Council released a report the relationship between fracking, underground wastewater disposal, and earthquakes.

The report (pdf) concluded that fracking in shale gas formations "does not pose a high risk" of causing earthquakes that can be felt by people, but that underground injection of wastewater from fracking carries a risk of causing such tremors. Furthermore, the injection of large volumes of fluids for proposed carbon capture and storage projects "may have potential for inducing larger seismic events,"according to the report.

As fracking operations increase, so does the likelihood of seismic events. Murray Hitzman, chairperson of the committee that authored the report, told CNN, "If we have more wells, we have more chance of events. And if we have more events, there's more probability of higher-magnitude events."

This report validates our concerns about fracking for natural gas. As the energy sector moves away from coal-fired power plants, it must avoid falling back on natural gas. Instead, it should leapfrog natural gas wherever possible and invest in forms of clean energy that we know are sustainable and safe, like wind, solar, and geothermal.

Image: Courtesy National Research Council.

-- Deb Nardone, Director of the Sierra Club Natural Gas Reform Campaign

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