The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

January 5, 2012

Cooler heads need to prevail on the subject of hydraulic fracture drilling

Enid News and Eagle

— The issue of fracking has come up again, this time because of a 4.0-magnitude earthquake in Ohio.

Fracking — high-pressure hydraulic fracture drilling — involves blasting millions of gallons of water, laced with chemicals and sand, deep into the ground to unlock vast reserves of natural gas, a boon both for energy companies and a public hungry for cheap sources of fuel.

In Ohio, the earthquake really isn’t being blamed on fracking itself, though. It’s being blamed on injection of wastewater from fracking into a well. The wastewater from fracking is toxic and is expensive to treat. One alternative of dealing with it is to pump it deep into the earth in injection wells, like the one in Ohio.

It’s that process that has been blamed for earthquakes in several states, including Oklahoma.

After the New Year’s Eve quake near Youngstown, Ohio, opponents of oil and gas drilling are ready to protest to the Ohio Legislature. Oil and gas drilling is booming in Ohio, as it is in Oklahoma and many other states, so there is a lot of money at stake — not to mention the fuel we all want to power our vehicles.

What really needs to happen now is for calmer, cooler heads to prevail. No issue is resolved in the heat of the moment. Passions cannot take the place of discussion and facts.

Earthquakes, fracking and injection wells have been news recently in Oklahoma, too, especially after the 5.6-magnitude quake recorded Nov. 6.

A study by Oklahoma Geological Survey released last year found most of the state’s seismic activity didn’t appear to be tied to injection wells, although it said more investigation was needed.

That’s our point. We need more scientific thought and discussion on the subject, not knee-jerk reactions.

The issue needs to be solved through geological science, not political science.