Desnee Flakes's Blog

That Noise You Hear Is Real Talk For Real People

Desnee Flakes

Desnee Flakes
Aiken, South Carolina, US
December 04
I am a recently employed activist who has been writing all my life about the issues that mean the most to me. My interests lie in politics, parity, race, and history. I believe that each of those things are interconnected and that only when we look straight at something do we actually see it. My politics are left of center, and I don't rely on any movement to define where my center is. My father taught us to measure others with the same yardstick you measure yourself.


Desnee Flakes's Links

No links in this category.
MARCH 12, 2012 11:46AM

Was That A Fracking Earthquake??!!!

Rate: 8 Flag



There are whispers across different media that fracking may be linked to earthquakes. This is disturbing news in the least; and at best it should focus attention on alternative energy sources, which may not have been fully vetted in terms of safety concerns. In the alternative energy world we seem more preoccupied with finding new sources of energy than with the consequences of what those energy concerns produce.

The Washington Post, did a story in January that focused on earthquakes in Ohio. Youngstown, Ohio --has never had an earthquake-- until 2011. Seismologists are blaming the eleven earthquakes in Youngstown on fracking. It's believed that the waste water from fracking is the trigger.  John Armbruster, a seismologist on the Columbia University's Lamont- Doherty Earth Observatory team states the disposal well is like a hydraulic jack; it slowly splits the underground fault; which in forcing the two sides apart causes a slip, and the slip becomes an earthquake. 

Because of earthquakes the drilling site in the FingerLakes region in Western New York was closed in 2011. I can't help but ask if the series of quakes that shook the Northeastern states in 2012 are also related to the fracking being done especially in Pennsylvania? Hopefully I'll soon have an answer for that.

The Oklahoma Geological Society also did a study they published in August of 2011. In their summary they determined that seven hours after hydraulic fracking activity began at the Eola Field in Garvin County the first of --50 quakes-- was felt. While they note that it is highly reasonable that the hydraulic fracturing was the catalyst for the quakes, they stop short of making it the definitive reason for the quakes. 

In a state impact paper reported and researched by David Barer and Yana Skorobogatov for Texas, it isn't the fracking itself, but the waste water wells which are the culprit. Each well uses massive amounts of water up to 4.5 million gallons, and Texas has 50,000 such chemically laced standing water wells. Quakes in Texas have been linked to the Eagle Ford Shale and the Barnett Shale.

Maybe we should be fighting for Josh Fox the director of Gasland to be able to film what the Energy Commission is proposing. Fracking has been exempted from the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the EPA does't even have jurisdiction over this industry. So the issues connected with this energy source are diverse, and demand that far more research needs to be done. Between undrinkable firewater and earthquakes this has the appearance of one of those ideas looking to blowup (literally) in our faces. 

Coming to the aid of the Fracking industry is a husband and wife pair of filmakers, Ann McElhinney and Phelim McAleer with a film titled "Frack Nation." Their previous film was a rebuttal of Al Gore's "An Inconvenienent Truth" titled  "Not Evil Just Wrong." In February they were at CPAC solicting support for their efforts. They also have a web page to drum up funds it is called Kickstarter

There is a history of how the oil industry and our government have responded to environmental concerns in the past.  I would call it the ask questions later policy.


In case you were living under a rock in the spring and summer of 2010 I've added a reminder of how well that policy works.

I included this video from CNN about the earthquakes that were plaguing Arkansas; but what I found most informative is both the time lapse map provided by geologists, and the obfuscation used by state oil and gas regulators. The map shows a causal link between fracking and earthquake activity, but regulators continue to call it a coincidence.

They state the area has a history of earthquakes, but the news report starts by saying that the preparation of school children isn't something you would expect in this area. Why wouldn't it be expected if these quakes are common place?



I trust that those who are interested in this issue will be able to make up their own minds, so I've included an interview with Marvin Odum, President of Shell making his case for fracking. I will leave it to you if he answers any questions you have about the safety of this procedure, if you believe that earthquakes are or aren't related, and if you think your drinking water is protected from fracking.







Your tags:


Enter the amount, and click "Tip" to submit!
Recipient's email address:
Personal message (optional):

Your email address:


Type your comment below:
Well gracious jane my hope is that people will look at this because I'm not sure how many people are aware of the earthquakes. I think they are more informed about the waste water, but the earthquake info is just starting to eek out. I wanted to present a balanced piece, even though I don't think there is any balance in policy. But most of all I wanted to sound an alarm, because I do believe the quakes felt on the eastern seaboard last year are related to fracking. I know many people who were freaking out because of them, but I don't think they are aware there may be some causal effects from the fracking waste water. If they aren't worried about their drinking water maybe they will worry about the cracks in the earth.
Thanks Peter what isn't known about this process is a little more than alarming. Can you imagine quakes being felt all across the country? And what is the benefit of low gas prices when you can't drink the water?
Of course fracking causes earthquakes -- the process itself is in many ways identical to how Nature does it -- high pressure pockets pushing apart unstable cracks in the earth's crust. Like cigarettes, anyone who's in the industry knows the consequences of their business. That's why they spent billions on advertising to counter the truth -- just as the frackers are spending millions to do so today.

This is just one more grievous example of how turning control of energy over to private interests is not a good idea -- they have a horrendous record of privatizing profits and socializing the costs of the externalities.

An honest assessment of the true per btu cost of energy sources will never be made because it would make clear that renewables are actually much cheaper, once externalities are introduced into the calculations.

The most obvious example of this Big Lie is nuclear energy, where NO ONE knows the cost of sequestering spent fuel with a half-life of 100,000 years or more. Nor does the putative btu cost of nuclear factor in the cost of a Fukashima type meltdown, which we are overdue for. A fracking-induced earthquake may well precipitate such a disaster.
Humankind seems to be quite happy with the idea of being the cause of his/her own destruction.
@ Tom I don't understand why every community when faced with something like fracking isn't looking at the history of this industry and their lack of oversight, testing, or studies of every conceivable disaster they may employ.
@gracious jane I would prefer that this issue makes you crazy over it making you sleepy. The problem is that there aren't enough of us getting extremely upset that once again we will know the full implications of this process when it is too late and not a second before.
I have no doubt whatsoever that fracking and earthquakes are related. Shooting a water/sand/chemical mixture 1-2 miles beneath the earth's surface would require a humungous amount of pressure, despite all the precautions Mr. Shell Oil is describing. If it is fracturing the shale, it is creating at least some level of instability, it seems to me.

I couldn't agree more L. Part of the problem is even though they have fracking engineers do the mapping they don't actually do the fracking so part of the problem may be in execution. I won't even pretend to know that, but I know that there are too many bad things associated with it for it to be worth the trouble.
"Fracking" is the swear word in Battlestar Galactica. How's that for irony?

I saw the Ohio earthquakes on Rachel Maddow. That woman deserves an award for all of the news she breaks on her show, but she'll never get one.

Did you know Santorum said that mankind is incapable of destroying this planet, only God has that kind of power. Explains a lot. Saw it on Rachel's show.
"Tom I don't understand why every community when faced with something like fracking isn't looking at the history of this industry"

That's easy to answer. I have kin in coal country who know full well what King Coal is doing to their communities, but they excuse it for one reason: jobs.
Not that I'm an engineer or anything, but agree with Lezlie that breaking up shale doesn't sound like a good thing - there have to be shifts in the remaining substance of the earth to accommodate the space left. And Tom is right, people gripe but as long as *jobs* are at stake, that overrides everything. Even having water to drink...

How depressing.

At some point we have to realize that there aren't infinite pockets of energy nor of jobs. There's gonna be societal earthquakes, horrendous seismic shifts in society...
@Phyllis Rachel often will try to get a story out but the other host on her network won't forward the story like they do whatever you first hear on Morning Joe. You can count on hearing the same story on every show except Rachel's for the rest of the day.

@Tom that is precisely why it doesn't make any sense, we take jobs that shorten our life spans and ensure that either we, our children, or both will suffer from some debilitating disease that not only shortens our lives but makes them unbearable at the same time. Forgive me I just watched Toxic Soup so I'm outraged once again.

@Myriad I think this is why we should be demanding clean energy. That will create jobs too, but the by product won't kill us in the meantime. Our problem is we want everything instantly, even though we know it takes time to develop different strategies. Instead of charting a forward thinking course we continually go for the quickest solution often the least tested. And when we learn of the consequences our attention span isn't long enough to mount real push back to bad policies.
Phyllis you busted me I was using fracking as a curse word too!
The more I hear about fracking, the worse it seems. Tom's comment about privatizing profits and socializing what economists sometimes call "externalities" is spot on. All forms of energy should be priced to reflect their true costs, which includes the cost of cleaning up the mess they leave behind and treating those who've suffered in the process. Thanks very much for this post.
@Abrawang you know we have so many issues facing us that sometimes it's really hard to figure out where to start. But I think we have to begin to deal with the issues that really effect everyone and try to build some consensus on how to deal with those issues. I find it very hard to believe that if everyone was educated about all the consequences these forms of energy produce that "Jobs" would still be the overriding priority. And yes Tom and you may be onto something.
Here we go again; stupidly short sighted, endangering ourselves for profit. Hard to enjoy the money when your activities lead to death and destruction, right? If only that were true.
Bluestocking babe, oh if only we weren't addicted to the quick fix. Is it any wonder we are besieged with people self medicating, when our general response to problem solving is predicated on "as long as it makes me feel good right now!"
OMG I am truly frightened.
.........(¯`v´¯) (¯`v´¯)
............... *•.¸.•* ♥⋆★•❥ Thanx (ツ) & ♥ L☼√Ξ ☼ ♥
⋆───★•❥ ☼ .¸¸.•*`*•.♥
As we should all be Algis.