“If the government and the Kansas Corporation Commission care about the people of Kansas and the damages, they will order a moratorium,” exclaims Joe Spease, chairman of the Kansas Sierra Club's fracking committee following a report from Kansas officials, who have been reluctant to link the mysterious earthquakes in south central Kansas to fracking, admitted last week that "we can say there is a strong correlation between the disposal of saltwater and the earthquakes."
As LJWorld reports, it's the first time state officials have so clearly stated the likely cause of the earthquakes, which are afflicting a region where fracking is widely used, as Rick Miller, a geophysicist and senior scientist for the Kansas Geological Survey, said he believes the injection of fracking chemicals into the earth has been a catalyst for the quakes.
During hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” for short, operators use a mixture of saltwater and chemicals to break tight underground rock formations to release oil and gas. To get rid of the water after the fracking process, operators inject the water deep into disposal wells.
Naming the cause of the earthquakes is, in part, a matter of semantics. Questions have long been raised about whether fracking activity is causing the earthquakes, and officials in other states have concluded that it has. But Kansas officials consider the waste water disposal a separate process, and so have not considered the fracking itself to be the key factor in the quakes.
At issue now is what, if any, action to take. The state’s Sierra Club chapter wants Kansas to follow in the steps of New York, New Hampshire, Maryland and numerous local governments nationwide and call a moratorium on fracking. Others, including Lawrence Rep. Tom Sloan, ask where the nation will get energy if the option is off limits.
“He is not being sincere,” said Joe Spease, chairman of the Kansas Sierra Club's fracking committee and owner of a renewable energy company in Overland Park.
“It is so ridiculous, this issue of semantics,” Spease said. “There are millions of dollars in property damages happening, and we have our scientists playing word games.”
The Kansas Sierra Club supports a bill, not yet introduced, to impose a moratorium on fracking to give the oil and gas industry time to develop a solution to the saltwater disposal issue, Spease said.
“If the government and the Kansas Corporation Commission care about the people of Kansas and the damages, they will order a moratorium,” Spease said. “If they only care about the profits of the oil and gas (industry), it will be business as usual. I hope that is not the case.”
As RT reports, this is not the first linkage...
According to a team of scientists working under Duke University geochemistry professor Avner Vengosh, wastewater associated with fracking sites contains large amounts of ammonium and iodide, which may in turn encourage the formation of certain carcinogenic byproducts.
“We were not aware that they existed in oil and gas waste products,” Vengosh told ThinkProgress. “Until now, no one was aware — no one was monitoring for those contaminants.”
“The relatively high frequency of spills associated with the intensity of shale gas development and reports of an overall increase of the salinity in watersheds associated with hydraulic fracturing activities, combined with data presented in this study, suggest that the release of [oil and gas wastewater] to the environment is one of the major risks associated with the development of hydraulic fracturing,” the study reads. “Our findings indicate that discharge and accidental spills of [oil and gas wastewater] to waterways pose risks to both human health and the environment.”
As RT reported previously, a separate study published earlier this month determined that fracking in an Ohio community caused 77 earthquakes during a span of just a few days last March.
Ironically, two days after the paper published its report, four small quakes occurred in the southern part of the state and through neighboring Oklahoma.
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State Rep. Tom Sloan, a Lawrence Republican who has served on several Federal Energy Regulatory Commission committees and task forces, said a moratorium would hurt the economy.
“How do you draw the line?” he asked.
“If you don’t allow fracking, you will shut down the entire industry,” he said.
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