This Fracking Horror Story Is Bad Fiction

Loren Kaye
President of the California Foundation for Commerce and Education

An evil corporation aims to flood the earth’s crust with water, causing massive earthquakes and threatening the survival of humanity! Sounds like a movie? Of course it is.

But it’s also an insane scenario being peddled by the Center for Biological Diversity, and given life by legitimate mainstream media.

The Center claims that the use of hydraulic fracturing technology to produce oil is causing “swarms of earthquakes” across the nation. And this being earthquake country, warns that “millions of Californians live in areas threatened by oil industry-induced earthquakes.”

Forget James Bond, this is a script worthy of Jim Carrey.

In fact, no legitimate scientist or government agency has found a connection between advanced oil and gas extraction techniques and major seismic events.

The Deputy Secretary of the US Department of the Interior in 2012 said, “There is no evidence to suggest hydraulic fracturing itself is a cause of the increased rate of earthquakes.”

The most authoritative recent study by the National Research Council found that “the process of hydraulic fracturing a well as presently implemented for shale gas recovery does not pose a high risk for inducing felt seismic events.”

Indeed, looking at historical records, the Council found that out of 35,000 projects, hydraulic fracturing has resulted in exactly one “felt seismic event,” and zero events that could have caused damage. Of the 13,000 wells studied by the Council that use enhanced oil recovery, as is common in California’s San Joaquin Valley, none were known to have caused or been associated with any felt seismic events of any magnitude.

Of energy technologies studied by the Council, geothermal development (a renewable energy source) is far more likely to be associated with felt seismic events than oil and gas development.

The real story here is that the documented safety record of oil production in California is exemplary. The Legislative consensus, and Governor’s support, to prudently move forward with reasonable regulation of hydraulic fracturing reflects their confidence in this important domestic energy source. Without a bad story to tell, the Center has to invent one out of thin air.

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