Letters to the editor

Mar. 07, 2013 @ 11:34 AM

Peele doesn’t make strong case for fracking quakes


Stanley Peele says “that in the Oklahoma and Colorado cases, there is not clear proof that earthquakes were caused by fracking. Yet they would be hard-pressed to explain the Ohio case.”  

He points to the Youngstown, Ohio, quake and notes “there had been no earth tremors for a hundred years,” implying the waste water injection from fracking was the cause of the quakes.  

I am NOT hard-pressed to see that adjacent to Youngstown. In northeast Stark County, a 3.0 magnitude earthquake occurred on Aug. 6, 2000. The error ellipse for that quake is 5 kilometers, putting it potentially in Mahoning County, where Youngtown is the county seat.

Immediately east, in Pennsylvania, earthquakes have occurred in 1852, 1873, 1985, and 1998. Immediately north, earthquakes have occurred in 1823, 1885, 1986, 1988, etc.  Expanded Marcellus Shale drilling started in PA in 2009. Ohio Utica Shale drilling is just now ramping up. 

I am hard-pressed to see the one-to-one correlation between fracking, fluid injection and earthquakes that Mr. Peele references with such certainty.

Here is what I know: This week in 24 states, there are 1,689 rigs drilling for oil and gas. Of these, 1,141 are horizontal and will be fracked. Most of these wells will flow back water. That water will be treated and reused or disposed of by injection. 

Earthquakes should be everywhere with this level of fracking and disposal activity. Where are they?

Through state regulatory bodies, injecting sites can be monitored and the implied risk from high pressure injection mitigated. North Carolina has the ability to regulate this activity as oil and gas rules are put in place.


Steve Heron

South Region Exploration Manager

Cabot Oil and Gas Corp.