Some people incorrectly think hydraulic fracturing — fracking — is responsible for the increase in earthquake activity in Oklahoma and Texas. Scientists, however, believe the quakes are caused by the use of underground injection wells to dispose of oil and gas wastewater. The increase in tremors spurred a coalition of scientists, regulators, industry experts and environmentalists to produce a 148-page report exploring why these earthquakes are occurring and how to prevent future incidents.
Sand from the upper Midwest is coveted for hydraulic fracturing. It is the right size, shape and cleanness (almost pure quartz). It is also highly resistant to crushing under immense pressure, acting as a network of pillars (think of the Parthenon) keeping open the tiny fissures made in the rock in the process of hydraulic fracturing, allowing the oil and natural gas to flow up from the rock deep underground.
A new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) confirms what many small-government environmentalists have been saying for years: States are more effective at regulating the disposal of wastewater from hydraulic fracturing operations than is the Environmental Protection Agency.
Hydraulic fracturing, also known as “fracking,” is a technique for recovering oil and natural gas from shale rock formations once too costly to develop. The use of fracking is sweeping the nation, resulting in a surge in production that has made the U.S. the single-largest producer of both oil and natural gas in the world, a feat that was unthinkable just a decade ago.
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.