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Rail News Home Federal Legislation & Regulation

1/13/2012



Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

Sen. Lautenberg calls on federal geological agency to assess hydraulic fracturing's seismic impacts


On Monday, U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) sent a letter to U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Director Marcia McNutt calling on the agency to move quickly to assess the seismic impacts of natural gas hydraulic fracturing operations and inform local communities and states about potential dangers.

A senior member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Lautenberg issued the request after a number of earthquakes across the country have been linked to hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” at shales, including a 4.0 magnitude earthquake that occurred on New Year's Eve near Youngstown, Ohio.

The disposal of fracking waste fluid may have put tremendous pressure on a local fault line, triggering the Ohio earthquake, Lautenberg wrote in the letter. In response, Ohio officials shut down five wells in the area where thousands of gallons of fracking waste fluid were disposed of daily.
 
“Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. Similar earthquakes have occurred near other fracking sites in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Colorado,” Lautenberg wrote. “It is deeply concerning that a widespread practice in the United States may be causing earthquakes and reshaping our geology through its waste disposal.”

He urges the USGS to assess the science related to earthquakes caused by disposal of fracking waste fluids, evaluate the current risk faced by communities where fracking activity is taking place and recommend strategies to prevent future earthquakes due to fracking.

“Right now, communities across the country are facing critical decisions about whether to allow fracking,” said Lautenberg in a prepared statement. “They deserve to know the risks associated with this type of drilling — particularly if it is being conducted without appropriate safeguards.”


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