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April 22, 2015

obviously the answer is one earthquake

There is some good news/bad news on the continuing reluctance to recognize that fracking as it is implemented today causes earthquakes.  The good news: it's all a little less reluctant!
Abandoning years of official skepticism, Oklahoma's government on Tuesday embraced a scientific consensus that earthquakes rocking the state are largely caused by the underground disposal of billions of barrels of wastewater from oil and gas wells.

And believe it or not, that very red state did a lot more than embrace a consensus — they started website!  And before you unleash the dogs of snark on that one, it's actually a pretty useful website, developed by the Office of the Oklahoma Secretary of Energy and Environment.  Even the URL is scary: earthquakes.ok.gov.  I mean, what Oklahoma is actually doing is a little less than robust (quickly, alert the bureaucracy!) but it's the next step following flat out denying that all those earthquakes that started right around the same time that the fracking started could NOT possibly be related.

And the bad news!  Well, it's bad news for the energy industry, actually.  Because an energy industry-friendly admitting the fracking/earthquake link means that flacks have to think up new things to say other than, "No one has shown a link yet.

"There may be a link between earthquakes and disposal wells," the [Oklahoma Oil and Gas Association]'s president, Chad Warmington, said in the statement, "but we -- industry, regulators, researchers, lawmakers or state residents -- still don't know enough about how wastewater injection impacts Oklahoma's underground faults."

Nor is there any evidence that halting wastewater injection would slow or stop the earthquakes, he said.

No, now the tapdance is a) we may know a little bit about fracking and earthquakes, but we don't know everything, so HEY LOOK a bright shiny thing on the ground; and b) one thing we definitely don't know is if stopping fracking is going to stop the earthquakes that are already going to happen because of fracking.

It's all dubious doubletalk crap, is what it is, but the bottom line is that the energy industry does not think that this question is one that should be taken seriously: How many earthquakes is too many earthquakes?

Posted by mrbrent at 10:50 AM