From The Terrifying Science Desk
I am opposed to "fracking" (hydraulic fracturing) for a variety of reasons, ranging from the aesthetic to the common-sense environmental to the economic.
That said, I've heard some people on the periphery of the green movement mutter darkly about a possible connection between hydraulic fracturing and earthquakes, and that made me a bit skeptical. The "frack-quake" scare tactic always struck me as more Dr. Weird than Dr. Science.
I may very well have been wrong.
|Still hopping mad that even one yokel bought that "Climategate" nonsense|
God help us all, it turns out there may be some hard science to back it up (it's still developing).
Here's the BBC (emphasis added):
...Six protesters from the campaign group Frack Off climbed a drilling rig at one of [energy firm] Cuadrilla's test drilling sites in Hesketh Bank, near Southport [in the U.K.], ahead of the [newly released] report. They oppose the controversial extraction method which pumps water and chemicals underground at high pressure to shatter rock formations and release gas, claiming it can be unsafe....Cuadrilla suspended its shale gas test drilling in June, over fears of links to nearby earthquakes. One tremor of magnitude 2.3 hit the Fylde coast on 1 April, followed by a second magnitude 1.4 on 27 May. A study by The British Geological Survey placed the epicenter for each quake about 500m away from the Preese Hall-1 well, at Weeton, near Blackpool.Is this definitive proof that fracking causes seismic instability? No.
Is it strong evidence that we need to study the hell out of this technology before implementing it as the "solution" to our energy needs? You bet your buttons.
What is fracking? YourGreenGuardian (an *excellent* blog) has a handy graphic:
|Image courtesy of YourGreenGuardian|
Fracking involves the injection of high-pressure chemicals and water into rock formations to break them up and free trapped gas. Most of the non-hellquake controversy around fracking involves the massive water use and contamination involved in the process - especially in regions like Utah, where water resources are already scarce and the subject of much dispute.
More introductory info, videos, etc. can be found at KUTNews (link courtesy of YourGreenGuardian).
Fracking is growing in popularity. There are some halfway-decent regulations being crafted here in the U.S., but the threat of regulatory capture is very real in more or less every federal regulatory agency at this point. Keep your eyes peeled.