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Ohio Earthquakes Spark Drilling Controversy
On 01.09.12 01:45 PM posted by Nicolas Loris
Youngstown, Ohio, had a rockin’ New Year’s Eve, but not the kind it hoped for—a 4.0 magnitude earthquake shook the city just one week after a 2.7 magnitude earthquake hit. Fortunately, there was no significant damage or injuries; the focus has primarily been on the cause of the earthquake. Although no definitive connection has been made, seismologists are pointing to oil and gas activity as a likely culprit; consequently, Ohio state officials indefinitely closed five wells used to store wastewater from natural gas drilling. D&L Energy, the owners of the five wells, are commissioning a geologic study to determine the cause of the seismic activity, although some seismologists are confident that the injection wells are the culprit.
Here’s what we know so far:
Governor John Kasich and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources have taken a prudent approach by treating the earthquake as an isolated incident and indefinitely suspending injection well activity near the earthquake (within five miles of the epicenter) but allowing the other disposal wells to operate. Studies have shown that minor seismic activity has coincided with wastewater injection wells, but not all wells induced seismic activity. It’s important to understand that this has not been a consistently reoccurring problem, but just as important to understand what caused the earthquake and what can be done to prevent future ones.
Governor Kasich’s spokesman affirmed that they would ensure safety while allowing the state to realize the economic potential of increased energy production: “Natural gas could generate tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of jobs in Ohio. For those out there who are willing to drive a stake through the heart of what could be an economic boon, we’re not going to let that happen.”