So far earthquakes in the Barnett Shale have been minor and only a nuisance. What happens if the earthquakes increase in magnitude as they did in Colorado where drilling caused a magnitude 5 earthquake that damaged property. Who pays for the damage? Would that be yet another cost borne by unlucky residents who live in areas where natural gas drilling is escalating at an enormous pace?
Other questions that need answers:
- What happens to those supposedly extra special cement casing jobs at the wells and injection wells as we have more earthquakes?
- What about all the pipelines in our neighborhoods?Check out this pipeline map! (scroll way down, it’s worth it)
- What about the Atmos gas couplings?
An earthquake expert, Cliff Frohlich, associate director and senior research scientist at the Institute for Geophysics at the University of Texas at Austin, says the data points to drilling as the cause of the recent quakes. Frohlich cowrote a book, Texas Earthquakes , and he believes drilling has caused Texas earthquakes.
Cleburne quakes probably related to gas drilling, expert says
Most people would probably conclude if they looked at the data that they would be related,” said Cliff Frohlich, associate director and senior research scientist at the Institute for Geophysics at the University of Texas at Austin.
Frohlich said he made his connection based on “the characteristics of the earthquakes and the fact that there’s been an enormous amount of drilling and injection of fluids in that area for recovery of gas.”
Here is a link to research on earthquakes in Texas
Non-expert, Ed Ireland, said there is no concrete link between drilling and earthquakes.
Recently an expert, Al Armandariz, Ph.D., Department of Environmental and Civil Engineering, Southern Methodist University, released a study on drilling emission in the Barnett Shale. Ireland, who is an economist, NOT a scientist, wrote an op-ed to dispute the findings of the study. Armandariz, an expert, had to defend himself against the industry.
The unsophisticated level of understanding, sophomoric statements, and errors of fact are even more numerous and glaring than I would have expected from one of our state’s regulatory agencies.
Here’s an example of unsophisticated level of understand by Ed Ireland who is an economist NOT a scientist:
Ed Ireland, with the Barnett Shale trade group, said the research incorrectly assumed the wells emit more pollution than they actually do and that prevailing winds actually blow pollution away from the D-FW area.
I’m not a scientist. I’m not even an economist. But, I know that pollution is still in the atmosphere no matter which way the winds blow and that pollution blown away from me just becomes someone else’s problem.
As it turns out, the TCEQ supports the findings in the Armendariz study. STATE DATA SUPPORTS CONCLUSIONS OF EDF/SMU STUDY ON BARNETT SHALE EMISSIONS
Here’s an example of sophomoric statements made by a Devon Energy official:
I think the tsunami in Thailand was also due to barnett shale drilling. There is quite a bit of shale production in Oklahoma too, so I’m sure that’s why there are so many tornadoes up there. It’s a well known fact that most “natural” disasters aren’t really natural at all. In fact, big oil has actually caused them all, but paid corrupt industry officals to cover it up. Go get ’em TXSharon!
Clearly, Big Oil is using Big Tobacco’s play book.
- Keep ingredients and chemicals used top secret
- Claim there is no proof that hydraulic fracturing caused the over 300 documented cases of perfectly good water that suddenly became contaminated after drilling in the area.
- Claim there is proof that all the smog in the Barnett Shale area is caused by drilling despite a peer reviewed study.
- Intimidate detractors
- Throw in an occasional death threat
I’ve tried to keep track of the quakes.
- 10/20/08 Magnitude 2.5 – mid-cities
- 10/21/08 Magnitude 2.9 – mid-cities
- 10/31/08 Magnitude 3.0 – mid-cities
- 5/16/09 Magnitude 3.3 – mid-cities (some sources say there were 6 earthquakes in October)
- 6/2/09 Magnitude 2.8 – Cleburne
- 6/7/09 Magnitude 2.6 – Cleburne
- 6/8/09 Magnitude 2.3 – Cleburne
About Sharon Wilson
Sharon Wilson is considered a leading citizen expert on the impacts of shale oil and gas extraction. She is the go-to person whether it’s top EPA officials from D.C., national and international news networks, or residents facing the shock of eminent domain and the devastating environmental effects of natural gas development in their backyards.
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Mr. mzchief, who has been involved in the O&G industry for 30+ years, says there is no doubt that the hydraulic fracturing used to facilitate gas recovery from the Barnett Shale formation could cause earthquakes and is most likely responsible for the increase in seismic activity along the Mexia and Talco fault zones.
Keep up the good work, TxSharon.
Petrea Rasmussen says
According to the news I just watched this morning (6/10/09), Cleburne convened an emergency meeting last night; they voted unanimously to hire a geologist to determine "what's happening". The spokesman said they want to be careful with the hire. They don't want somebody to just say "don't worry" and "everything's normal" … but, on the other hand (said the spokesman) they don't want someone to say that the center of town is about to sink into the earth. I was taken quite aback by those statements! Plan to hire a scientist, ostensibly to determine the truth, yet place limits on the scientist's results before they even begin their work! It's the principle I disagree with, not a judgment on the reasonableness of those statements.
The news, however, was not what I just ranted about. The news was that, according to the news report, Cleburne experienced yet another quake last night (6/9/09) either during or just before the emergency meeting mentioned previously.
Finally, I'd like to thank TXSharon for having published sufficient authoritative information for me to find it entirely reasonable to conclude that the fraking for natural gas in the Barnett Shale formation can easily be the responsible for triggering tectonic earthquakes in our Metroplex. I wonder if our local policymakers were made aware of the potential for earthquakes. Either answer to that question is troubling.