The folks at Energy in Depth took aim at news reporters for linking fracking to the earthquakes in Oklahoma. Their analysis piqued our interest; at first blush it looked like there could be a familiar dodge at work. Sure, fracking isn’t causing the earthquakes, but disposal of fracking fluids is the cause.
It turns out that fracking and the earthquakes aren’t entirely unrelated, but, as the charts above show, if horizontal drilling packed the same linguistic punch it would be named as the cause. Most of the water disposed of in Oklahoma is not fracking fluid, but produced water. In fact, it’s 95%, according to this study by Rall Walsh and Mark Zoback. What’s not clear is how much of that produced water comes from fracked wells, Walsh says.
But this is what is clear: the U.S. oil-production Renaissance brought about by the combination of fracking and horizontal drilling has led to a dramatic increase in the amount of wastewater in Oklahoma. Produced water nearly doubled from 849 million barrels per month in 2009 to 1.54 billion in 2014, according to Scientific American. The injection of that wastewater into specific super wells along the Arbuckle formation is now what is causing the temblors, according to USGS.
It doesn’t make for a good t-shirt slogan, but that’s how fracking and earthquakes connect.
Inside the Beltway
The coal ash provisions in the bill are, according to Senate supporters, a truncated and less controversial version of coal ash standalone legislation in both chambers, Brian Dabbs reported. That language would authorize states to submit individual permitting programs to the Environmental Protection Agency for approval in accordance with a 2014 federal coal ash regulation. The EPA would have to approve state programs within 90 days of submission. As of now, civil litigation is the only means to enforce the federal rule. WRDA passed the Senate 95-3, but faces a rockier road in the House over funding for Flint.
The federal government would shoulder 75 percent of the cost of dredging harbor channels to a depth of 50 feet, deep enough to accommodate larger ships that can navigate the expanded Panama Canal, under water resources legislation (S. 2848) passed by the Senate.
Currently, the federal government covers 75 percent of the cost to dredge down to 45 feet. While there is only five feet of difference between current law and the bill, dredging is so expensive that billions more dollars would be spent by the government on deepening the nation’s channels, even though the cost-sharing ratio stays the same, Brandon Ross reports.
The Energy and Environment Legal Institute today will sue the Vermont attorney general for documents related to an investigation by 17 attorneys general into whether fossil fuel companies such as Exxon Mobil Corp. lied to its investors about the risks climate change poses to their business, Rachel Leven reports.
Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) said today that he suspects Yucca Mountain “is going to be dead” if the new administration is opposed to Yucca Mountain as a permanent geological repository for high-level nuclear waste. “I suspect that by this time next year we will have an indication as to whether Yucca Mountain is going to proceed or not,” he said at the National Cleanup Workshop in Alexandria, Va., focusing on the Energy Department’s Environmental Management programs.
First Solar Inc. may reopen a factory to speed up delivery of photovoltaic panels that could be a disruptive weapon against Chinese competition, the company’s new chief executive officer said in his first media interview.
Tesla just won a bid to supply grid-scale power in Southern California to help prevent electricity shortages following the biggest natural gas leak in U.S. history. The Powerpacks, worth tens of millions of dollars, will be operational in record time—by the end of this year.
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