As the Youngstown Vindicator reported today, the Youngstown area had not had a recorded earthquake before St. Patrick’s Day this year (the real one, not the one Kasich declared.) Today’s Vindy says that the area has had ten alone.
Some in the area believe the earthquakes are being caused due to fracking-related activity in the region:
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has found no conclusive link between the earthquakes and the D&L Energy Inc. brine-injection well on Ohio Works Drive in Youngstown, but on Friday ordered the well to cease operations until the bottom 250 feet of the well is plugged, to ensure no brine water is entering the nearly impermeable Precambrian formation and to “eliminate any perceived [earthquake] accusations.”
The well accepts fluids from fracking, a process that extracts natural gas and oil from deep under the ground.
That’s a nice way of saying it’s a waste dump.
Since the story came out this morning, however, the region just had its eleventh quake, and by far the most intense one, registering 4.0 on the Richter scale.
Remember, ODNR stopped activity at the well to “eliminate any perceived accusations” that it was responsible for earthquakes.
In other words, to shut the filthy hippies up.
But now that there’s been an even more intense earthquake in the region. Governor Kasich’s operation does the only thing they do well: take credit for “taking action” for things they long dismissed:
State Representative Bob Hagan (D-Youngstown) is calling for a moratorium on such fracking injection wells, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Sen. [sic] Bob Hagan, Democrat of Youngstown, said there have been a dozen quakes in the last year, four within the last couple of months, "ever since the drilling started."
Hagan said he asked the U.S. EPA "to intervene because of the possibility of another quake. "My suspicion is that fracking injection wells are to blame," he said.
Hagan said he has asked Bill Batchelder, speaker of the Ohio house, to set up bipartisan joint hearings involving the house and senate, but the speaker has ignored his calls. He also said he tried in vain throughout Saturday to reach Gov. John Kasich.
"People have accused me of saying the sky is falling, but when the earth is moving, it’s a good idea to find out why," Hagan said in a telephone interview.
It appears the debate within the ODNR as to whether fracking is responsible for the unprecedented seismic activity in Youngtown isn’t just hippy fear mongering after all:
Mike Hanson, coordinator of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ seismic network, said Saturday that "the suspicion is that the earthquakes are not naturally occurring. They are induced."
Hanson said ODNR shut down an injection well west of Youngstown on Friday, but quakes could still occur because the pressure has not yet dissipated.
In other words, the fracking pumping wasn’t stopped simply to eliminate the “crazy” accusations, but that because ODNR had solid scientific “data” that suggested the pressure of the well was responsible. After all, how else do you explain Hanson’s statement that the earthquake was the result of pressure in the well has no yet dissipated?
Fracking has been a favorite of Governor John Kasich. In fact, in today’s Columbus Dispatch, it was revealed that Kasich is in talks to bring a major Shell ethane cracker plant to Ohio… something the oil giant needs to capitalize on fracking natural gas trapped in the Utica Shale.
Kasich’s support for the plant was bolstered, it should be mentioned, by letters in support by Democrats such as U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, Congressman Tim Ryan, State Senate Minority Leader Capri Cafaro, and House Minority Leader Armond Budish.
But support of fracking does not equal into opposition to responsible regulation and oversight of fracking. Regardless, as Kasich has spent much this month talking up fracking as a major policy and economic issue for 2012, today’s event was not just a geological earthquake, but a political one as well.