Fracking Earthquake Connection Widens, Canada Getting Into It Big Time

Youngstown, Ohio ushered in the new year with a 4.0 magnitude earthquake, after which officials ordered five wells shut down that were receiving wastewater from natural gas fracking.

The earthquake followed 10 smaller tremors during 2011, all centered around the wells.

The wells were used to dispose millions of gallons of brine and other waste liquids created during the fracking process, mostly in Pennsylvania.

The waste was injected under pressure into 9,200 feet deep wells.

Scientists suspect some of the wastewater migrated into deeper rock formations, allowing an ancient fault to slip.

Arkansas and Texas experienced earthquakes suspected to be linked to fracking last year. 

Ohio Governor John Kasich vows to continue using the state’s 177 other disposal wells and to pursue uninterrupted fracking, even as many call for a moratorium.

In fact, Total SA, France’s largest oil company, which recently
raised its stake in solar leader SunPower
, just bought a 25% stake ($2.32 billion) in 619,000 acres of Ohio shale from from Chesapeake Energy and EnerVest, which is developing the region.

Meanwhile, Canada has become a hot bed for fracking.

Last year, Apache Corp crowed over what they called the biggest hydraulic fracturing operation ever deep in the forests of northern British Columbia, reports Pro Publica.

Apache injected 259 million gallons of water and 50,000 tons of sand into 16 adjacent wells in a project four times larger than any before in North America.

But at the end of the year, Apache and partner Encana, North America’s second-largest gas driller, doubled even that project at a neighboring site.

Indeed, Alberta and British Columbia offer financial incentives and loose rules to attract natural gas frackers, and that’s resulted in the most intensive drilling anywhere. And these developments are only in their infancy.

Other parts of Canada aren’t as enthused – Quebec has a moratorium on shale development pending further study, and protesters are demanding the same in New Brunswick.

Although low gas prices and public opposition slowed fracking down last year, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers expects it to more than triple in the next decade.

Canada’s deputy minister of the environment wants to further assess the risks given its huge water consumption and contamination, including water, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions and the use of unknown toxic chemicals.

But the government’s position remains pro-fracking because of benefits for the economy and the environment due to  "cleaner" natural gas.

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