Congressional Democrats request hearing about "man-made earthquakes"

by Chris Casteel Published: December 18, 2013

Two House Democrats said Wednesday that House committees should study whether seismic activity in some states, including Oklahoma, is being caused by the injection of wastewater from hydraulic fracturing activities.

Reps. Peter DeFazio, the top Democrat on the Natural Resources Committee, and Henry Waxman, the top Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee, said in a letter to the committee chairmen that a joint hearing should study :increased seismic activity in previously seismically inactive locations, the critical need for additional data, and the potential regulatory gaps in current law that put people and property at risk from man-made earthquakes.”

“The tremendous boom in U.S. oil and natural gas production over the past several years has been the result of the expanded use of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, techniques that generate large quantities of wastewater, which is often disposed of through underground injection,” the letter states.

According to a news release, the members’ letter follows “a warning from the U.S. Geological Survey and the Oklahoma Geological Survey that indicated that the injection of wastewater generated from oil and gas activities, such as fracking, may be a potential contributing factor to the over-tenfold increase in earthquake frequency in Oklahoma since 2009.

Independent peer-reviewed work has also identified a link between underground fluid injection and the largest earthquake ever recorded in the state of Oklahoma–a magnitude 5.7 quake in November 2011 that resulted in two injuries and significant property damage.”

by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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