Climate Action

Fracking is Shaking Things Up in Oklahoma

Oklahomans are noticing a spike in the amount of earthquakes they experience. While Oklahoma has long been aware of its vulnerability to tornadoes, earthquakes have recently become a bigger concern. According to Oklahoma Geological Survey between the years 1978 and 2000, Oklahoma experienced an average of two noticeable quakes per year. In 2014 there were over 230 reported earthquakes. The first increase of earthquakes began in 2008, with more dramatic jumps between June 2013 and February 2014. Since January there has already been an astounding 200 earthquakes  felt and recorded. Earthquakes must have a magnitude of least 3.0 to be felt. So who’s to blame for the sudden spike? We can hardly ignore the fact that the increase in quakes is accompanied by an increase in drilling, particularly hydraulic fracturing, more commonly known asfracking. The process involves injecting up to eight million gallons of water mixed with about six hundred different types of chemicals— including toxins such as mercury, lead and uranium—into the ground through a pipeline at high pressure to break rocks beneath us. This process releases natural gas within shale rocks. It is also believed to trigger dormant fault lines, leading to seismic activity. The earthquakes can be large enough to damage property. In 2011, a 5.6 magnitude earthquake damaged 14 Oklahoma residencies, cracking foundations and sending one chimney hurtling through a roof. It’s clear that changes need to be made to prevent Oklahoma from experiencing these ‘man-made’ earthquakes. Oklahoma should begin to transition into sustainable energy sources. Solar, biomass, and wind energy would be excellent options for Oklahoma’s location. The Oklahoma Renewable Energy Council is currently working to promote sustainable energy and educate residents about its many benefits.   Oonagh Cavanagh, Intern