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LA City Council Ignores Science; Claims Hydraulic Fracturing Caused Earthquake

KTLA St Patricks Day Earthquake 3/17/2014

In their efforts to block hydraulic fracturing, some Los Angeles City Council members don’t want to let the St. Patrick's Day earthquake go to waste:

Three Los Angeles City Council members want city, state and federal groups to look into whether hydraulic fracturing and other forms of oil and gas “well stimulation” played any role in the earthquake that rattled the city early Monday morning.

The motion, presented Tuesday by Councilmen Paul Koretz and Mike Bonin and seconded by Councilman Bernard Parks, asks for city departments to team up with the California Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources, the U.S. Geological Survey and the South Coast Air Quality Management District to report back on the likelihood that such activities contributed to the 4.4-magnitude quake.

National Review Online talked to City Council Member Bernand Parks:

Parks, who seconded the motion, tells National Review Online that while fracking is “reportedly” happening near the epicenter, those who signed the motion weren’t completely sure. However, he adds that “earthquakes are happening in areas that are not historically earthquake prone, but they are in places where fracking is going on.”

No one should be surprised that the ground often rumbles in Los Angeles, a city lying on top of an area prone to earthquakes, but that doesn't mean city leaders can ignore geophysics.

A scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey stated nicely that Council Members’ theory that hydraulic fracturing caused Monday’s earthquake is hogwash:

Seismologist Lucy Jones, a USGS science advisor for risk reduction, said she would need to know much more about nearby pumping in the area, such as whether someone was changing the water pressure deep in the ground, to say whether it could have been a factor in the Monday temblor.

However, "my first impression is that sounds implausible," Jones said, "just because the earthquake was so deep. Induced earthquakes are almost always shallower than this."

According to seismographic data, the quake was six miles beneath the surface.

What’s more, Mark Zoback, professor of geophysics in the Stanford School of Earth Sciences, hydraulic fracturing expert, and a former advisor for the Obama administration’s Department of Energy has said that hydraulic fracturing doesn’t have the oomph to cause earthquakes and poses “no danger to the public”:

The energy released by one of these tiny microseismic events is equivalent to the energy of a gallon of milk hitting the floor after falling off a kitchen counter.

The Daily Caller’s Michael Bastasch reports on other research finding tenuous links between hydraulic fracturing and earthquakes:

A peer-reviewed 2012 study on fracking in the Inglewood Oil Field in Los Angeles County found that “the high-volume hydraulic fracturing and high-rate gravel packs had no detectable effects on vibration, and did not induce seismicity (earthquakes).”

The National Research Council, which is part of the National Academy of Sciences, also found last year that fracking poses a low risk for “inducing felt seismic events.”

“We also find that there is no evidence to suggest that hydraulic fracturing itself is the cause of the increased rate of earthquakes,” wrote David Hayes, deputy secretary of the Interior Department, in a 2012 report.

This effort is the latest in the Los Angeles City Council’s anti-hydraulic fracturing crusade. In February, the Council agreed to draw up rules to prohibit hydraulic fracturing, and in March, it followed through by authorizing changes in land-use laws to ban the technology in the city.

It’s apparent that science won’t stop these politicians from exploiting a natural event in order to slam hydraulic fracturing, an extremely beneficial tool for creating jobs and improving America’s energy security.

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