ODNR Says Trumbull Injection Well Can Reopen with “Acceptable” Plan

American Water Management Services (AWMS) owns a wastewater injection well in Trumbull County that supposedly caused a low-level earthquake (that nobody could feel) in 2014. Two wells located at the site, both operated by AWMS, were “temporarily” shut down by the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources following the quake (see ODNR Temporarily Shuts Down Injection Wells After Low-Level Quake). AWMS appealed the closure of the wells all the way to the Ohio Supreme Court. ODNR is still trying to block one of the two wells from opening by saying AWMS *could* open the well–if they submit an acceptable (comprehensive) plan.
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Yet Another Fracking-Causes-Earthquakes “Study” – This Time in Utica

Yet another “fracking may cause earthquakes” study has been published in the so-called peer reviewed journal PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences). Researchers from the University of Miami (in Ohio) admit the kind of earthquakes they talk about in their paper, potentially caused by Utica Shale drilling, are “rare.” But, they are also “concerning.” Yes, everyone should be concerned that in zero percent of Utica well drilling cases (statistically speaking) there have been NO earthquakes. Actually a couple of cases are thought to be related to fracking over a fault–but it’s still unproven. Statistically speaking, it’s 0%. But, there could be problems! Maybe. If the conditions are “just right.” Ya never know. We note the researchers didn’t address concerns over fans in football stadiums that, when they all stomp their feet at the same time, have caused “earthquakes” that are higher on the Richter scale than the ones they postulate “may, maybe, might” happen in Utica drilling. No mention of football fan earthquakes in this study. Below is the “news” about this latest, breathlessly urgent report that everyone should read…
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Stanford Researchers Now Able to Detect “Earthquakes” from Fracking

Yes, we must revisit the topic of “fracking causes earthquakes” yet again (sigh). But maybe this time something good will come of our discussion. Researchers at Stanford University (crazy California) have discovered a way to detect thousands of faint, “previously missed earthquakes” triggered by fracking and by injection wells. “The technique can be used to monitor seismic activities at fracking operations to help reduce the likelihood of bigger, potentially damaging earthquakes from occurring,” according to a published research study. By now you know our standard explanation, the facts about fracking and earthquakes: (1) Injection wells can and do cause detectable earthquakes–when they are located over faults. (2) Fracking shale wells rarely causes detectable earthquakes. We know of perhaps a half dozen times when fracking a well, which again happened to be over a fault, caused an earthquake. Out of the millions of fracked wells that have been drilled. Statistically speaking–fracking doesn’t cause earthquakes–detectable earthquakes, that is. You have to understand something about earthquakes and fracking. From the Standord researchers: “Earthquakes generated by fracking are typically no larger than magnitude 0. That’s equivalent to the amount of energy released when a milk carton hits the floor after falling off a counter.” However, every now and again an earthquake will hit a 1 or even 2 magnitude. Above 2 is barely noticeable by humans. What the Stanford researchers have done is to figure out how to monitor seismicity when fracking (or injecting wastewater into wells), and use that information to predict when the activity may lead to triggering a larger quake. Now that is useful information…
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NETL Researchers Find Tiny Earthquakes Help Marcellus Production

Broadband seismometer used for surface seismic monitoring

We hesitated to use the headline that we did, given the way virulent anti-drillers bastardize the issue of fracking and earthquakes. But we used it to make a point. Quick history: The headline-grabbing “fracking causes swarms of earthquakes” in places like Oklahoma is about frack wastewater that is injected in special saltwater injection wells, deep below the surface. There are, literally, hundreds of thousands of such wells across the country. Unfortunately, when such a well is located directly over or very close to an underground fault (large crack), the fluid getting injected acts like grease, allowing rock layers to slip and slide–in some cases causing low level earthquakes–typically earthquakes under 2.0 on the Richter scale (can’t be felt on the surface). Is fracking itself ever the cause? Statistically, no. But it has been documented to happen in a handful of cases–under 10 times in the entire world, out of millions of fracked wells. And again, it only happened because of fracking directly over an underground fault. However, any time you explode charges underground, which is what fracking is, if you have equipment sensitive enough, you can detect it. Is that an “earthquake”? We’d say no. Perhaps it is considered an “earthquake” according to a technical definition, but those extremely low vibrations are brief–typically 30-60 seconds–and they never cause any kind of harm on the surface. In fact, the vibrations can’t be felt at the surface. So our headline referring to “tiny earthquakes” is somewhat tongue-in-cheek, a way to tweak antis. Researchers at the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) have discovered that those vibrations from fracking–what they call “low frequency tremors”–can be measured and used to figure out how to get more production out of Marcellus Shale wells in PA and WV…
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OH Injection Well that Caused OH Earthquakes Shutting Down Forever

In late December 2011 a 4.0 earthquake hit the Youngstown, OH area. It was the latest in a string of quakes that began in March 2011, shortly after a wasterwater injection well went online–the Northstar #1 well. In March 2012 the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources (ODNR) made a determination that indeed, it was the Northstar well that caused the quake–due to its location over an active fault (see ODNR Finds Youngstown Injection Well Caused Earthquakes). When you force liquid of any kind deep into the ground and into a fault (gigantic crack running through the rock layers), that liquid acts like grease allowing the rock layers to slip and slide, causing an earthquake. It’s a rare occurrence, at least in Ohio. Without recounting the entire sordid story, ownership of Northstar #1–originally owned by D&L Energy, whose owner was found guilty of illegal wastewater dumping unrelated to the injection well–the current owner has filed an application to permanently, and for all time, plug and close Northstar #1…
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Overraction by Antis to Unfelt Earthquake in Monroe County, OH

Early Sunday morning there was a low-level earthquake in Monroe County, OH–that literally nobody felt–but was picked up on seismic monitors by the U.S. Geological Survey. There was, according to the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources (ODNR) one fracking operation “near” the earthquake that ODNR shut down within an hour after the event–out of an abundance of caution. Immediately several radical anti-drilling groups, including the Ohio Environmental Council and the Sierra Club, jumped on the news and declared fracking unsafe and too risky in the nearby Wayne National Forest. With zero proof that it was tied to either fracking or wastewater injection wells. Here’s the news, and the way the news is being distorted by antis…
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DEP Says Fracking at PA Utica Wells “Likely” Caused Earthquakes

On Friday, the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection held a hastily-called webinar to discuss findings that, frankly, aren’t all that newsworthy or surprising. After 10 months of study, the DEP has concluded that zipper fracking activities by Hilcorp in Lawrence County, PA “likely” caused a series of earthquakes in April 2016 so minor that nobody could feel them. And the DEP concluded this after 10 months of study, when a week before the DEP itself issued the permits to drill in Lawrence County, Hilcorp drilling was shut down about seven miles away, across the border in Mahoning County, Ohio, for potentially causing low-level earthquakes there (see Hilcorp Awarded Permits to Drill 7 New Wells Near Earthquake Zone). It wasn’t exactly rocket science to connect the dots and speculate that fracking over top an active fault had caused the low-level earthquakes on the PA side of the border, as it had on the OH side of the border. As we’ve stressed multiple times here on MDN, earthquakes related to shale are almost always connected with injection wells–when large amounts of liquid are injected near a fault. Earthquakes from fracking activities are rare–like under 10 times, ever, out of millions of fracked wells. Statistically zero. Still, let’s not let a good “crisis” go to waste. The DEP, in releasing a report about the incident (full copy below), said they will work up new regulations to detect and prevent such statistically zero occurrences from happening again…
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DEP Concludes Hilcorp Drilling Caused Minor Earthquakes in W PA

In April of last year (2016), MDN brought you the story of earthquakes so minor nobody could feel them in Lawrence County, PA were likely caused by fracking (see PA DEP Investigates Hilcorp Fracking in Earthquake Nobody Felt). However, seismic monitoring equipment could detect them. We have to stress that earthquakes caused by fracking is rare–like this is one of five instances we’re aware of. Far more common are earthquakes caused by deep injection wells. But fracking itself? Statistically zero percent of the time earthquakes are caused by fracking. So when it happens, it’s noteworthy. The conditions must be just right–fracking immediately overtop a fault in the rock layers. The driller in this case, Hilcorp, was ordered to stop all fracking and drilling activity at the well site, which they did. The Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) says they have concluded their investigation and will today (on a webinar) disclose their results. Here’s the kicker: the DEP could have avoided this. Two years earlier the same driller, Hilcorp, caused minor earthquakes seven miles away–just across the border in Ohio. At that time Ohio officials stopped Hilcorp from drilling in that region. A week after the Ohio earthquakes that stopped Hilcorp, the PA DEP issued permits to drill in the same area (see Hilcorp Awarded Permits to Drill 7 New Wells Near Earthquake Zone). MDN was the only source to make that observation. We waved our little red flag and said maybe it’s not such a wise decision to grant those permits. Someone at the DEP needs to read MDN! At any rate, below is the news, as much of it as we currently know. By the time you read this, the DEP earthquake webinar will be over, but we’ve included the webinar notice as (so far) it’s the only information we have to indicate the DEP now concludes Hilcorp drilling was at fault for the earthquakes in Lawrence County…
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ODNR Says No ‘Felt’ Earthquakes from Injection Wells Last 5 Yrs

On Dec. 31, 2011, the Youngstown, OH area experienced a 4.0 earthquake that was later determined to be caused by a wastewater injection well (see Youngstown Earthquake and Fracking: Is There a Connection? and ODNR Finds Youngstown Injection Well Caused Earthquakes). The Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources (ODNR) later enacted new regulations to prevent future occurrences of earthquakes from either injection wells or fracking itself (see Did ODNR Overreact & Set Earthquake Detect Bar Too Low?). As we pointed out in 2014, the new rules would have shut down the Cleveland Browns stadium–if all of the fans were to begin stomping their feet it would create an “earthquake” greater than the allowed limits set by ODNR. Since the new rules were enacted there have continued to be earthquakes in Ohio, but not “felt” earthquakes from injection wells (see Study Says Series of Unfelt Earthquakes in OH from Utica Fracking). Typically an earthquake must reach 2.5 on the Richter scale to be felt on the surface. Since spring of 2012, there have been no major (above 2.5) earthquakes in Ohio related to injection wells, although there have been a few felt earthquakes supposedly tied to fracking over an active fault (see OH Researchers Confirm Hilcorp Fracking Caused Low-Level Quakes). Now five years later, the ODNR is patting itself on the back, taking credit for the reduced number of earthquakes tied to injection wells, because (they say) of their super-restrictive regulations…
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Study Claims Link Between Fracking & Earthquakes in W Canada

fracking-and-earthquakes.jpgAnother week, another so-called research paper that purports to show a link between fracking and earthquakes. Two researchers at the University of Calgary looked at drilling and fracking of shale wells in Canada’s Duvernay Shale (western part of the country), looking for clues that might indicate fracking itself–if done near an underground fault–can lead to low-level earthquakes. The researchers claim they have found such a link–which is the first such study to make a connection between fracking and earthquakes. The researchers have just published “Fault activation by hydraulic fracturing in western Canada” (full copy below), in the journal Science. We have repeatedly reported, based on studies and observable facts, that disposing of high volumes of wastewater in injection wells near underground faults (large cracks in the rock layer) can lead to earthquakes. We’ve also chronicled that fracking directly over a fault can also lead to an earthquake–which has been documented to happen perhaps half a dozen times, ever, out of the hundreds of thousands of times wells have been drilled and fracked. Statistically zero. But this study claims there is a link and the inference is that fracking leads to more earthquakes that you may think. Should we be worried?…
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WV Wastewater Co Grabs Nat’l Headlines re OK Earthquakes

earthquake.jpgFor a number of years we’ve had our eye on Fairmont Brine Processing, headquartered in Fairmont, WV. We originally started writing about the company in 2010 when it was AOP Clearwater (see AOP Clearwater Plant in WV a Big Success in Treating Marcellus Shale Wastewater). New owners expanded the operation in 2014 (see New Brine Processing Plant Coming to Panhandle of WV). Earlier this year Fairmont secured a $90 million line of credit to build a new wastewater processing plant in southwest PA (see Fairmont Brine Gets $90M to Build New Wastewater Recycling Plant). Imagine our surprise at seeing the company’s name in a major Bloomberg article about Oklahoma earthquakes! Brian Kalt, CEO of Fairmont Brine, is floating an idea that will settle the man-induced earthquakes in Oklahoma, which come from injecting shale wastewater deep underground: Don’t inject it anymore. Instead, using Fairmont’s recycling technology to separate out the salty minerals and then release purified water into streams and rivers. That Bloomberg article actually made the Drudge Report for a while yesterday! Kudos to Fairmont and Brian Kalt…
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Penn State Eats Crow: No Link Between Fracking & Earthquakes

eat crowIn May MDN highlighted news that Penn State University had set up a seismic monitoring system throughout Pennsylvania to track earthquakes in the Keystone State (see Penn State Claims Link Between Fracking & Earthquakes, Without Research). We pointed out at the time that researchers had jumped the gun by theorizing fracking may be the cause for some of the earthquakes. At the time they said: “We have not done enough analysis of the data to make any conclusions yet, but there is a correlation spatially and temporally between the fracking and the earthquakes.” In other words, “We haven’t actually done the research, but we’re going to say there’s a connection between fracking and earthquakes–because we feel like it.” Now that they’ve done some of the research, those same Penn State researchers have changed their tune. What they say in a recently issued report is this: “The report found no correlation between the seismic events during that period and Marcellus Shale fracking or gas injection wells.” Sounds to us like they’re eating crow…
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Penn State Claims Link Between Fracking & Earthquakes, Without Research

Penn StateWhat has happened to one of the world’s finest research universities? A press release issued yesterday by Penn State touts their participation in helping set up a seismic monitoring system throughout Pennsylvania. In the announcement, Penn State researchers openly admit this about a series of tiny quakes in western PA that couldn’t be felt at the surface: “We have not done enough analysis of the data to make any conclusions yet, but there is a correlation spatially and temporally between the fracking and the earthquakes.” In other words–“We haven’t actually done the research, but we’re going to say there’s a connection between fracking and earthquakes–because we feel like it.” That’s not science–that’s politics. Real scientists observe first, then conclude. Penn State is reversing that order–they already have their conclusions, now it’s just a matter of warping the observations to fit their conclusions. Sad…
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PA DEP Investigates Hilcorp Fracking in Earthquake Nobody Felt

earthquake.jpgYou can count on one hand the number of cases where fracking a shale well over top an active underground fault (never a good idea) has caused a detectable earthquake. Can we now add one more case in western PA? Officials from the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection are investigating whether or not fracking by Hilcorp in well in Lawrence County, PA caused two 1.9 earthquakes in the area on Monday. Just so you know, you can’t feel a 1.9 earthquake on the surface. The only way you know of such an earthquake is through special monitors maintained by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). A football stadium full of fans stomping their feet at the same time can (and has) caused earthquakes greater than 1.0 (see ODNR Temporarily Shuts Down Injection Wells After Low-Level Quake). You don’t even feel earthquakes on the surface until they hit around magnitude 4.0 and above. Still, with so little drilling happening in the state these days, chasing fracking earthquakes gives DEP investigators something to do, we suppose…
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Harrisburg “Reporter” Blames Republicans for Earthquakes in Ohio

Truly amazing. That’s our reaction to the latest anti-drilling article published by the Democrat-controlled Harrisburg Patriot-News from “reporter” (i.e. anti-drilling advocate and propagandist pretending to be a reporter) Candy Woodall. Woodall used the news about a report recently released by the U.S. Geological Survey regarding earthquakes caused by injection wells to blame a series of earthquakes in Ohio on the previous Republican governor Tom Corbett. Yep. Corbett and his hated (for Democrats) Secretary of the Dept. of Environmental Protection at that time, Mike Krancer, are why there was a series of earthquakes near Youngstown, OH, including a 4.0 magnitude quake on Dec. 31, 2011 (see Youngstown Earthquake and Fracking: Is There a Connection?). Those wicked Republicans who just love to destroy everything. Here’s how the propagandist Woodall used a legitimate story and prefaced it with a totally made-up introduction, just so she could hammer Republicans on fracking one more time…
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Judge Tosses Appeal to Re-Open Trumbull, OH Injection Well

It appears that in Ohio it’s A.O.K. for regulatory bodies to write laws–something the legislature is supposed to do–and not only can they write laws, they can take their sweet time doing it, denying a legally permitted business the right to conduct operations in the meantime. And if the legally permitted business seeks justice in the court system? Yeah, even the judge sides with the all-powerful state to prevent that business from operating. That about sums up the situation in Ohio for American Water Management Services (AWMS). AWMS owns a wastewater injection well in Trumbull County that supposedly caused a low-level earthquake (that nobody could feel) in 2014. Two wells located at the site, both operated by AWMS, were “temporarily” shut down by the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources following the quake (see ODNR Temporarily Shuts Down Injection Wells After Low-Level Quake). One of the two injection wells was allowed to re-open, but not the other (see ODNR Clears Trumbull Co. Injection Well in August Quake). Why was one well allowed to re-open but not the other? Because the ODNR is supposedly crafting new regulations that will govern the offending well that may or may not have caused the low-level quake. When will we see those new regs? Who knows! AWMS appealed ODNR’s decision to keep the second well shut down to the Ohio Oil and Gas Commission, a body that works for (yes) the ODNR. Unsurprisingly the Commission found ODNR is within its right to keep the second well shut down while it takes its time writing new regulations. AWMS appealed the Commission’s decision to a court, and the judge threw out the case because of a filing deadline legal hoop AWMS didn’t jump through properly…
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