EPA Issues Report on Fracking and Earthquakes

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According to EPA scientists in North Texas, earthquakes there are likely related to fracking and drilling. Although it is not a new discovery that this link is possible ­ or even likely, an acknowledgement from the EPA is significant.

Evaluations at the state level have routinely found no causal link between fracking and earthquakes in Texas. These findings are laid out in the EPA’s report to the Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC), postmarked August 15, 2016.

The RRC conducts activities related to the enforcement of the Safe Drinking Water Act requirements, including monitoring injection wells used in gas and oil drilling.

In the report, the EPA commends the RRC “for its influential involvement” in this monitoring and “for establishing new regulations specific to seismicity”. (p.11) They are praised for their response to earthquake events in North Texas and the Dallas­Fort Worth area, ceasing or reducing injection well activities there.

A simple map of the continental United States overlayed with areas of fracking in blue.
Source: USGS.

However, the report states the EPA’s belief that the continued seismic activity in that area is due to these wells while RRC representatives insist in public statements that there is no proven connection between the drilling and the earthquakes.

The report advises the RRC to record pressure and injection data daily and note seismic activity, with a reminder that a failure to do so may endanger public health by contamination of drinking water sources.

Although this report is new, the Geological Survey offered a similar statement last year and the connection is understood. However, the power of the energy sector and their lobbyists has brought about ambiguity and deception on the issue, and dumped money into ads and candidates to ensure that they can keep drilling. With this official statement and more science behind them, environmentalists and activists will continue their fight against fracking.

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