Two recent reports on Ohio’s wastewater injection well program discredit chronic allegations by opponents of hydraulic fracturing. These include claims that the creation of such wells leads directly to earthquakes, and that the Ohio Department of Natural Resources has neglected to establish proper regulations to keep Ohioans safe.
It is important to note that falling oil prices create economic costs as well as benefits. But The Badger Herald article would have benefited from a discussion of the good that comes from lower prices, and it relies on a quote from Bill Davis of the Wisconsin Sierra Club that presents some inaccurate statements about the environmental impact of hydraulic fracturing.
For years, water, or, more accurately, its scarcity, has been predicted to be the next doomsday scenario. In 1994, the American Philosophical Society published a book bearing the title: Is water our next crisis? In 2007, NBC featured: Crisis feared as U.S. water supplies dry up. More recently, in 2011, NPR did a story on Water: The Epic Struggle for Wealth, Power and Civilization—a new book in which the author posits: “water is surpassing oil as the world’s scarcest critical resource.” This year, a Business Insider (BI) report called “water scarcity problems” a “looming national issue.” In September, the Associated Press declared: “The water crisis is already here.”
Despite the fact that the science doesn’t support the thesis, opponents of oil-and-gas extraction, like Maddow, have long claimed that the process of hydraulic fracturing is the cause of the earthquakes. Earthworks calls them “frackquakes” because the quakes, the organization says, are “fracking triggered earthquakes.”
It turns out disposing of hydraulic fracturing wastewater may not be to blame for the earthquakes in Oklahoma after all. A new study conducted by seismologists from Stanford University confirms the widely held belief that injecting large volumes of fluid into underground disposal wells is likely responsible for most of the recent quakes in Oklahoma. The study also found the source of the vast majority of this fluid is unrelated to hydraulic fracturing.
Ohio sits above the Utica and Marcellus shales, two geologic formations that have rich energy potential waiting to be unlocked by the process of hydraulic fracturing, commonly referred to as “fracking.” Increased energy production has the potential to be a powerful economic engine for unemployed Ohioans, but the debate over hydraulic fracturing has served to highlight the natural and political fault lines running through the state.