Does the earth shake where you live? As a native Californian, I never thought twice about earthquakes. But a recently released United States Geological Survey surprised me: Because of fracking, people in Oklahoma now experience more earthquakes than those who live in my state.
In 2011, the U.S. Geological Survey had reported that the incidence of earthquakes in the middle of the country jumped from 21 in 2000 to 134. Oklahoma now experiences one or two magnitude three earthquakes each day, according Mark Peterson, who authored the report and was quoted in the New York Times. This is the first time the agency has released a comprehensive assessment on the connection between oil and gas operations and earthquakes.
In 2011, central Oklahoma was shaken by a 5.6-magnitude temblor–to put it in perspective, the 1994 quake that decimated parts of Los Angeles was a 6.7. Scientists are calling that which occurred in Oklahoma the nation’s “biggest human-induced quake.”
Hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, is a drilling practice that calls for injecting millions of gallons of a toxic mixture of chemicals, water and sand into the earth in order to create enough pressure to cracks open rocks and release oil or natural gas. As shown by the USGS data, a clear side effect of fracking, and the wastewater storage required to sustain it, is earthquakes.
The nearly 600 chemicals used in fracking include known carcinogens such as benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene and xylene, among others, which can leach into drinking water.
You can read more about the health problems associated with these chemicals by clicking here. Do you experience earthquakes where you live? Are they getting worse? Is there fracking in your area. Please tell me about it, in comments below!