Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Oklahoma Kept Silent About Fracking To Protect Industry

While it has long been known that 'fracking' byproducts and waste water well injections can and do cause earthquakes, it seems that in Oklahoma, that fact was suppressed to protect the oil industry. According to an article on Rawstory, University of Oklahoma President David Boren pressured subordinates to either downplay or remain silent on the issue after being pressured by oil executives.

Waste water well injections pump millions of gallons of chemical-laden liquid into 'waste water wells' which are simply very deep drill holes in the ground. These holes can go through many types of rocks, and old 'locked' fault lines, and once the chemical soup is down there, it can lubricate fault lines, weaken limestone and bedrock, and of course, pollute water tables and aquifers.

Fracking has increasingly become a more common practice in the oil and gas industry. Hydro-fracturing injects gas an water into shale tables in order to release trapped natural gases, which are harvested above ground. There are many reserves of this gas-shale across the US, which has led to a brief energy boom in the industry, which has seen very little regulation or restraint placed on these practices.

Unfortunately, it seems that good science has been suppressed in this case in the name of energy profits, and this has put lives and property at risk.

Where previously, there were little to no earthquakes in Oklahoma, their daily total of quakes now exceed that of my home state of California, both in number and magnitude. While California regularly experiences small quakes ranging from <1.0 to greater than 3.5 daily, Oklahoma's average quake magnitudes are exceeding magnitude 3.5 and in one case, a damaging 5.7 earthquake occurred along a now reactivated fault line.

This is part of a disturbing trend in the US, where 'scientists' can be paid to suppress research findings in the name of corporate profit, and part of a concerted effort by energy companies to publicly erode public trust in science itself. And the strategy is working.

In the US, public trust of science is on a sharp decline, in no small part because of powerful energy lobbyists, and oil barons the Koch brothers. David and Charles Koch own and operate Koch Industries, who re involved in everything from energy to agriculture. It has long been known that they heavily lobby and campaign for neo-conservtive politicians, and fund anti-science campaigns designed to 'discredit' unfolding disasters such as global warming, and environmental damage caused by energy extraction an exploration, in order to deregulate the oil industry and maximize profits.

It is an unfortunate state of affairs for good science, and a black mark on the human race. It is entirely outrageous that average people buy into the whole 'clean coal' myth, along with climate change denial because of tactics like this. Stuff like this gives me a conniption.

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