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Democrats want hearing on whether earthquakes are linked to fracking

Citing research on Oklahoma earthquakes, two Democrats call on Republican committee leaders to look into unusual seismic activity.
by Chris Casteel Modified: December 18, 2013 at 8:49 pm •  Published: December 19, 2013
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photo - A drilling rig used for hydraulic fracturing is trucked across a water hose at a drill site Sept. 24, 2013, in Midland, Texas. The drilling method known as fracking uses huge amounts of high-pressure, chemical-laced water to free oil and natural gas trapped deep in underground rocks. With fresh water not as plentiful companies have been looking for ways to recycle their waste. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)
A drilling rig used for hydraulic fracturing is trucked across a water hose at a drill site Sept. 24, 2013, in Midland, Texas. The drilling method known as fracking uses huge amounts of high-pressure, chemical-laced water to free oil and natural gas trapped deep in underground rocks. With fresh water not as plentiful companies have been looking for ways to recycle their waste. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)

Two House Democrats called Wednesday for a hearing on whether earthquakes in Oklahoma and other states are being caused by activities related to hydraulic fracturing.

Reps. Peter DeFazio, the top Democrat on the Natural Resources Committee, and Henry Waxman, the top Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee, said the two panels should hold a joint hearing to study the increase of seismic activity in areas that had previously been inactive and “the potential regulatory gaps in current law that put people and property at risk from man-made earthquakes.”

In a letter to the Republicans who control the committees, the lawmakers said, “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.”

A news release from the Democrats says the U.S. Geological Survey and the Oklahoma Geological Survey have 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.”

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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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