I associate a lot of things with England; bad teeth, bad weather, and bad food (except for fish & chips!) But “earthquakes” was never on the list until this morning. Cuadrilla, a natural gas company that employs that much-maligned “fracking” technique, has admitted that fracking was the “probable” cause of some “minor seismic events.”
“Minor Seismic Events”
Now to me, this is terrifying on a whole new level. Environmentalists have claimed that fracking causes earthquakes for a few years now, and the damage to water tables near fracking operations is well documented. But it is another thing for a company engaged in the practice of fracking to openly admit that, well, yeah, we might be causing earthquakes…
BUT DON’T WORRY! These “minor seismic events” were also a likely result of an “unusual combination of geology at the site.” That’s the official line anyways, although the minor earthquakes near the coastal city of Blackpool (registering about 2.3 on the Richter scale) are not the only earth-moving events to be blamed on fracking. U.S. Geologists have potentially linked over 1,000 earthquakes in and around Arkansas to fracking, though a significant dropoff in quakes was noticed once the wells were closed.
I Expect You To Drill, Mr. Bond
I do like the prospects of natural gas replacing oil as America’s fuel of choice, and there is no 100%-clean energy solution…but we need to approach drilling, especially fracking, with a very wary eye these days. It would be better to develop a more-expensive, but safer way, of extracting shale natural gas, lest we trade oil spills and CO2 emissions for earthquakes and methane problems.
Fracking is all the rage these days though, with companies like Shell plotting huge operations, sometimes in the middle of the ocean, to extract the trillions of cubic-feet of trapped natural gas. The idea of oil and gas companies actually being able to cause earthquakes gives them James Bond-like weapon at their disposal, and that is just too freakin’ scary if you ask me.