Tuesday, November 29, 2011

OKLAHOMA: ALL SHOOK UP


Oklahoma has been hit by a series of earthquakes—for the past two years.  On a recent weekend, 23 earthquakes were recorded.  This state does not sit where tectonic plates rub together far underground.  As a matter of fact, it sits in the middle of a tectonic plate.  So why all the earthquakes?  Some people are speculating that they’re due to the extensive oil and gas drilling that’s gone on for years.

As a matter of fact, there’s speculation that drilling for natural gas in Arkansas has been causing earthquakes there since at least April of 2009.  And that an earthquake in Virginia in August was caused by shale drilling.  Also, that fracking in Great Britain caused two earthquakes in July.  It’s even been postulated that drilling set off the devastating earthquake in Haiti.

Scientific American reported in June, 2009, that geothermal drilling in Basel, Switzerland set off an earthquake which shut down the operation; that the drilling for gas exploration in Indonesia caused a massive mud volcano in 2006 that displaced 30,000 people; that an area of Northern California, which contains the geothermal vents called The Geysers, has been experiencing human-induced earthquakes since 1975 as a result of drilling.  

But the drilling goes on.  As does the push for profits, with barely a missed beat.

The industry knows that it’s causing these events, although some try to deny it.  Cuadrilla, the private company that is fracking in England, admits that it triggered “a number of minor seismic events” in Blackpool.  Scientists know it, as witness the report in Scientific American.  It’s not a deeply guarded secret.

So where’s the outrage?  The Earth’s crust is being fractured in millions of places every day!  Its contents are being extracted.  Does it make any sense that humans can drill deeply into the earth for oil, natural gas, steam, or whatever else without devastating consequence? 

Fracking has produced some protests, but they are mainly focused on air pollution and the contamination of ground water.  Is no one concerned about the potential collapse of the earth?  Of course, the first article I researched on protests about fracking was overlaid by an advertisement from the Shell Oil Company…so guess who’s shaping the debate?

Oklahoma is shaking.  The rest of us should be, too—shaking in our boots.  One of these days, Mother Earth may just open up and swallow us whole.  End of problem!

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