I mentioned in a previous article where Oklahoma is experiencing several hundred earthquakes since oil companies established pumping stations there back in 2007. Only one earthquake was detected in 2007 and an astounding 900 magnitude 3.0 and above earthquakes were detected last year. These are man-made earthquakes caused by injecting waste water produced from extracting oil into deep into the ground causing more pressure on plates which results in an increased risk of earthquakes.
California at Risk
California is in the same situation as dozens of permits were handed out by the California’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources to drill new wastewater wells since April 2015. In fact, regulators recently approved four new injection wells only 8 miles from the San Andreas Fault! Considering California is on a fault line the consequences of a few induced earthquakes can be devastating.
Another scary fact is that oil-wastewater injection volumes more than doubled in California between 1995 and 2015. An astonishing 38 billion gallons of wastewater was injected in California in 2015 alone!
Not convinced that there is a connection between waste injection wells and human-induced earthquakes? The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) recently did a study that explained how 7 million people in the country work and live in areas vulnerable to oil industry induced earthquakes. That’s pretty scary considering an earthquake in such a densely populated area could cause severe damage and deaths.
Why Isn’t Anything Done?
As injections continually rise, state regulators are doing little to monitor the threat. There’s no requirements for oil companies to report daily injection pressures or anything that seismologists request. What’s more astonishing is that they allow wastewater injection wells to be so close to faults!
Seems like corporate greed is clouding the judgement of people and the proof of immediate profits blurs the potential deadly outcome in the near future.
With so many studies and proof that the industry is causing damage I hope that people in higher government positions will take a stand and implement some regulations to prevent this from happening. Even a regulation stating that you can’t create an injection well within 100 miles of a fault is better than what we have now. Although I highly doubt drilling will stop and the problem will go away, I hope there will be steps taken to limit the impact for the sake of our environment and for those living in affected areas.
What are your thoughts on this? Do you think corporate America has gone too far? Should we have stricter regulations?
Comment below. I’d love to hear what you have to say.