The Rush to Ban Hydraulic Fracturing (Fracking)
According to the Democratic-Gazette, the state Oil and Gas Commission has voted to ban fracking activities in parts of Arkansas and other states. The month - a long moratorium has been in effect since the ban was imposed after geologists determined that a fracking operation by the Arkansas Department of Natural Resources and the US Army Corps of Engineers had actually caused the tremors. A press release from the commission said: The ban bans fracking wells in all parts of the state of Arkansan except the city of Conway. The earthquake soon subsided, but the results prompted Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission regulators to shut down several wells in the area. Similar concerns have been raised near the Anasazi (Ancestral Puebloan) ancient ruins of Chaco Canyon, in New Mexico. The quakes were likely triggered by hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking. AGS official Scott Ausbrooks said "a grid of underground cracks and fissures provides a passage for fracking fluid to reach the fault." It prompted Davis and more than a dozen of his neighbors to file five lawsuits in federal court against Chesapeake Operating Inc., the company whose Clarita Operating LLC owned the third well to be shut down.
Bankruptcy and Litigation
The company went bankrupt in 2011 and ceased litigation, but several companies have since mined natural gas. BHP Billiton bought parts of Ches's shale gas assets, Apeake, in 2012. Some residents claim that the swarm of earthquakes that rocked central Arkansas in 2010 and 2011 was triggered by injecting sewage from deep wells, damaging their homes. After sewage injection began in July 2010, scientists began to detect seismic activity in the surrounding region that led to a series of felt earthquakes. When a 4.7 magnitude earthquake struck on February 27, 2011, the Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission issued an emergency order to stop the sewage injections. The wastewater is produced by natural gas drilling using fracking, which uses a high-pressure mixture of water and chemicals to break up shale rock and release oil and natural gas. The sudden swarm of earthquakes in Arkansas, including the largest in the state in 35 years, is most likely the result of natural gas drilling, experts warn. Seismologists with the U.S. Geological Survey say the tiny microquakes are rarely felt on the surface and the millions of gallons of wastewater that flows back are disposed of underground. Scientists have found that disposal wells in Greenbrier, Arkansas, triggered more than 1,000 quakes last year, prompting a group of homeowners to sue. This is a practice called hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," in which water is injected into the ground to break rocks and release trapped natural gas. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, it is a concern not only for the health and safety of residents, but also for the environment. Saltwater is a common product of the fracking process, and the simplest solution is to inject the toxic wastewater back into the soil.
How Fracking Works
For those of us who live on this planet, hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is the process of extracting natural gas from rock formations deep below the Earth's surface. The process injects pressure fluid into the soil to dissolve it from underground caverns, often in the form of sand, sandstone, shale and other materials. One of the biggest environmental concerns associated with fracking is the disposal of millions of gallons of toxic waste water produced by the process, which can cause serious health problems for the environment.
The oil and gas industry has been wrestling with the final piece of this puzzle for years. Small earthquakes in recent years have shaken communities in the oil-rich United States, and many scientists believe they are related to oil and gas drilling. In Arkansas, shale drilling has caused dozens of environmental problems, including groundwater erosion and eroding reservoirs that contain drilling fluid, according to state officials.
Most of the problems the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality reported concerned the three largest companies drilling the formation, according to a report by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Natural Resources Conservation. A Public Policy Panel in Arkansas that reviewed the records of the state's Environmental Inspectorate for Oil and Gas Drilling found that just over 300 inspections resulted in more than 1,000 violations of state and federal regulations in 2014. Two new reports released in May and June 2017 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Natural Resources Conservation found more than 1,000 violations of state and federal regulations on hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as "fracking." Existing peer review evidence shows that hydraulic fracking has no systemic impact on groundwater. These studies confirm the findings of the US Environmental Protection Agency's own study, which found no systemic impact from the more than 1,000 wells in operation across the country since 2011. The study adds: "Since 2001, there has been a significant increase in Barnett Shale activity in the United States, particularly in Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas.