Nothing starts an argument in Upstate these days quite like hydraulic fracture mining, or fracking as it is commonly known. From concerns over drinking water and the environment to concerns over our declining economy and what a fracking industry might bring to the region, there are no shortages of angles from which to state your position, either. Personally, while I’ve tried to keep up with the situation, the fact is that there remain too many open questions for me to come down on one side of the issue or the other. Though honestly: when the industry itself is creating a lot of the question marks by hiding answers behind the dubious firewall of “proprietary processes,” its hard not to side against them.
But on one particular facet of the debate, we have received some incontrovertible proof in the form of nine dead Spaniards. They are the victims of a ground water drilling operation that either triggered or hastened a 5.1 magnitude earthquake in Lorca, Spain. Nature is quick to point out that we don’t know if the quake came as a result of ground pressures that were already extreme – whether man managed to create a quake, or help one out – but all agree that the quake was much stronger than they might have predicted.
But the basics are these: you can’t take stuff out of the ground and not expect the ground to stay in exactly the same position. It will settle. In fact, even Fox News has recently reported a six-fold increase in seismic events across the Midwest, where oil and methane (read: fracking) production has increased over the past decade.