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GOP Endorses Nazi Fischer/Tropsch Process

The Man from I.G. Farben

COMMENT: The GOP has seized upon the Fischer/Tropsch process as a means of reducing U.S. dependency on imported fossil fuels. Developed by the I.G. Farben firm and used by the Third Reich to produce fuel, the process was the focal point of the Standard/I.G. Agreement of 1929.

Recently, the process has been used to facilitate the processing of natural gas into high-quality diesel fuel.

Note that the GOP is pushing legislation that would authorize the Pentagon to use environmentally destructive fuel derived from Fischer/Tropsch. The Pentagon, to its great credit, is pushing back!

One wonders what royalties might accrue to GOP-friendly mega-corporations that benefit from Fischer/Tropsch?

“Nazi-era Technology Embraced by Republicans in U.S. Congress in the Name of National Security”  by John Daly; oilprice.com; 6/6/2011.

EXCERPT: . . . The subsequent vicious Allied fight from Normandy to Germany saw the Nazis largely fueled by a technology that is now being promoted by the Republican Congressional leadership, in collusion with its munificent fiscal campaign energy supporters, as a way to lessen U.S. dependence on energy imports.

At issue is the Fishcher-Tropsch coal liquefaction process, developed by energy-poor Germany in the 1920s and expanded by the Nazi regime. Bent on dominating Europe, Hitler’s war machine suffered from increasing fuel shortages, first in September 1939 when Britain’s Royal Navy clamped a naval blockade on the Baltic, exacerbated in June1941 when the invasion of the USSR ended Soviet energy imports, leaving Germany largely dependent on Romania’s Ploesti oilfields after the failure of Army Group south to capture the Caucasus and Azerbaijan’s rich Caspian resources. FT production became increasingly critical to fueling Hitler’s war machine from then onwards, given Germany’s immense coal reserves.

By 1944, Germany was producing 124,000 barrels of synthetic fuels daily at 25 FT plants. FT was subsequently commercialized by South Africa’s apartheid regime, beginning in the 1950s through South Africa’s state energy company Suid Afrikaanse Steenkool en Olie (SASOL), founded in 1950, now a private company and the world’s leading proponent of FT. In the early 1980s, as UN sanctions against South Africa began to take effect, two large coal to liquid (CTL) SASOL production facilities were commissioned and now form the single largest and most profitable asset in SASOL’s global portfolio.

If the ideological footprint of Fischer-Tropsch is vile, then its environmental impact is even worse. Quite aside from the ideological concerns, fuel derived from the FT process has a carbon footprint 118 percent greater than that of conventional gasoline.

Nevertheless, on 12 May the House Armed Services Committee voted to eliminate a ban on the military purchasing high carbon non-conventional fuels. In considering the annual National Defense Authorization Act, House Resolution 1540, the committee voted to exempt the Department of Defense from Section 526 of the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act, which prohibits federal agencies from procuring fuels with higher life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions than conventional fuels, including liquid coal and tar sands oil.

The Pentagon is pushing back against being mandated to use these dirty fuels, backed by the coal industry and its Congressional supporters. On 3 June, Tom Hicks, the Navy’s deputy assistant secretary for energy, testified before a House Energy and Commerce Committee panel against Fischer-Tropsch fuels, stating, “In addition to requiring large new sources of coal, it requires enormous quantities of water, $5 to $10 billion in capital per plant to provide a fuel result that is more than twice as carbon-intensive as petroleum,” promoting instead new generation biofuels made from sources like camelina crops, corn stover and algae. . . .


10 comments for “GOP Endorses Nazi Fischer/Tropsch Process”

  1. Hello, Dave. Looking back on it, it’s kinda interesting to see this crop up when you mentioned this as far back as 10, 15, heck, maybe even 20+ years ago!

    In any case, whichever Pentagon source which is fighting this promotion of FT does deserve some credit……..hope they’re on our side! =)

    Posted by Steven | July 2, 2011, 12:07 am
  2. @Doug: I think one of the main issues is{other than the major pollution contribution it would undoubtedly make}, will the Underground Reich and their allies, henchmen, etc. be able to monopolize everything? Honestly, I’d rather just stick to the algae process if coal ever does become an absolute necessity as a fuel source for anything.

    Posted by Steven | July 3, 2011, 1:37 pm
  3. My interpretation of this news item:

    (1) Democratic Governor of Montana Brian Schweitzer proposed using Fischer-Tropsch in 2005 (perhaps taking the Cheney Administration by surprise?).



    (2) Using the Pentagon as “born-again eco-sensitives” (or are the Pentagon using the GOP for this staged Congressional testimony & operation?), the GOP are able to “take this option off the table” to pre-emptively prevent any future Governor Schweitzers from raising the Fischer-Tropsch option in the future.

    Does anyone really believe the Pentagon’s newfound concern for environmental issues? I can name several egregious Pentagon violations against the environment off the top of my head: the use of HAARP; multiple lawsuits against Naval sonar use that destroys whale populations; the use of depleted uranium in multiple theatres from the Balkans to Iraq; the use of perchlorate in rockets & missles; the use of trichloroethylene, a massively dangerous water contaminant used simply for degreasing metallic parts.

    Aren’t these Congressional hearings merely a transparent ploy to defuse the future use of Fischer-Tropsch?

    Posted by R. Wilson | July 4, 2011, 9:07 pm
  4. @R. Wilson: Problem is, Fischer-Tropsch WAS a Nazi process, and given that the Underground Reich is a key component of what we could call the world crime network, and that they do have their allies all over the U.S. military still, the only conceivable reasonable answers I can think of, is that some non-criminal factions in the Pentagon either just realized how badly polluting this process was, or maybe they not only know about its history, but also perhaps may know its true purpose, or possibly even both; in any case, it’s bad news for all of us, and I’d like it to be taken off the damn table, PERMANENTLY.

    As for Gov. Schweitzer? I’ve heard of him, and he seems to be decent, but somebody has GOT to educate him on where the FT process came from and the kinds of additional damage it WILL do to the environment.

    Posted by Steven | July 5, 2011, 11:20 pm
  5. How the Fischer-Tropsch process plays out with the current fracking craze will be something to watch going forward. That, and the destruction of our drinking water supplies:

    Learning Too Late of Perils in Gas Well Leases


    After Scott Ely and his father talked with salesmen from an energy company about signing the lease allowing gas drilling on their land in northeastern Pennsylvania, he said he felt certain it required the company to leave the property as good as new.

    So Mr. Ely said he was surprised several years later when the drilling company, Cabot Oil and Gas, informed them that rather than draining and hauling away the toxic drilling sludge stored in large waste ponds on the property, it would leave the waste, cover it with dirt and seed the area with grass. He knew that waste pond liners can leak, seeping contaminated waste.

    “I guess our terms should have been clearer” about requiring the company to remove the waste pits after drilling, said Mr. Ely, of Dimock, Pa., who sued Cabot after his drinking water from a separate property was contaminated. “We learned that the hard way.”

    Americans have signed millions of leases allowing companies to drill for oil and natural gas on their land in recent years. But some of these landowners — often in rural areas, and eager for quick payouts — are finding out too late what is, and what is not, in the fine print.

    Energy company officials say that standard leases include language that protects landowners. But a review of more than 111,000 leases, addenda and related documents by The New York Times suggests otherwise:

    ¶ Fewer than half the leases require companies to compensate landowners for water contamination after drilling begins. And only about half the documents have language that lawyers suggest should be included to require payment for damages to livestock or crops.

    ¶ Most leases grant gas companies broad rights to decide where they can cut down trees, store chemicals, build roads and drill. Companies are also permitted to operate generators and spotlights through the night near homes during drilling.

    ¶ In the leases, drilling companies rarely describe to landowners the potential environmental and other risks that federal laws require them to disclose in filings to investors.

    ¶ Most leases are for three or five years, but at least two-thirds of those reviewed by The Times allow extensions without additional approval from landowners. If landowners have second thoughts about drilling on their land or want to negotiate for more money, they may be out of luck.

    The leases — obtained through open records requests — are mostly from gas-rich areas in Texas, but also in Maryland, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

    In Pennsylvania, Colorado and West Virginia, some landowners have had to spend hundreds of dollars a month to buy bottled water or maintain large tanks, known as water buffaloes, for drinking water in their front yards. They said they learned only after the fact that the leases did not require gas companies to pay for replacement drinking water if their wells were contaminated, and despite state regulations, not all costs were covered.

    Some leases, however, also include language that comes back to haunt landowners.

    “I thought I knew what the sentence meant,” said Dave Beinlich, describing a section that said that “preparation” to drill was enough to allow Chief Oil and Gas to extend the duration of his lease.

    In 2005, Mr. Beinlich and his wife, Karen, signed a lease for $2 an acre per year for five years on 117 acres in Sullivan County in north-central Pennsylvania. They soon realized they had gotten far less money than their neighbors, so they planned on negotiating a new lease when theirs expired in 2010.

    A day before their lease term ended, no well had been drilled on their land, but the gas company parked a bulldozer nearby and started to survey an access road. A company official informed them that by moving equipment to the site, Chief Oil and Gas was preparing to drill and was therefore allowed to extend the lease indefinitely.

    Another important lease term is the Pugh Clause, said Lance Astrella, a lease lawyer in Denver. It is named after Lawrence Pugh, a Louisiana lawyer who started adding it to leases in 1947 to ensure that they would not be extended indefinitely without wells being drilled.

    Fewer than 20 percent of the more than 100,000 Texas leases reviewed by The Times include such a clause, and very few of the leases from Maryland, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia include the language. While the leases collected by The Times represent a small fraction of the more than 8 million oil and gas leases in the United States, experts said they illustrated issues that landowners need to understand.

    Mr. Astrella said that leases also typically lacked a clause requiring drillers to pay for a test of the property’s well water before drilling started, and landowners often do not think to do the tests themselves. If drilling leads to problems with drinking wells, landowners have few options if they want to prove that their water was fine before drilling started.

    Mr. Stark, the Cabot spokesman, said that his company was not responsible for any water contamination in the area and that Cabot’s studies showed that the gas seepage into the drinking water was occurring naturally.

    “All the testing we have been able to conduct show the water meets federal safe drinking water standards,” Mr. Stark said.

    Hmmm…so the industry says there’s no problem based on their studies but the landowners appear to have poisoned drinking water. It’s a good thing the EPA has studied this issue before. It’s a bad thing they apparently forgot they studied it already and found abandoned wells to be prime culprit for group water contamination. So it looks like the EPA might need to look into this again:

    EPA Study Probably Won’t Prove That Fracking is Unsafe, Though It May Be

    by The Intersection

    This is a guest post by Jamie L. Vernon, Ph.D., a research scientist and aspiring policy wonk, who recently moved to D.C. to get a taste of the action

    Recently, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson stated that there is no evidence that the “fracking” process has lead to contamination of ground water. In response to a question from the U.S. House Oversight Committee, she said,

    “I’m not aware of any proven case where the fracking process itself has affected water, although there are investigations ongoing.”

    The term “fracking” refers to a process of extracting natural gas from wells drilled deep below the Earth’s surface. The technique is officially known as hydraulic fracturing and involves pumping a water-based fluid into a well under high pressure so as to cause the formation of cracks in deep rock layers. The cracks and the chemical ingredients in the fracture fluid facilitate more efficient extraction of the natural gas.

    Critics of the process have made claims that hydraulic fracturing has contaminated aquifers and other water sources with ingredients from toxic fracking fluid in areas where natural gas drilling is occurring. A documentary entitled “Gas Land” recently sensationalized the story by showing scenes in which drinking water had become flammable. Here’s a famous scene from the movie: [video]

    The problem with the critics’ argument is there is insufficient evidence to prove that the contaminated water is indisputably due to fracking. The process has been used for many years and has not been scrutinized until recently. Despite the scrutiny, no one has carried out thorough investigations to determine whether the process is likely to lead to water contamination. Sure, there have been cases where it is suspected that the process has contaminated ground water. Indeed, I have blogged about it here at The Intersection, but with no analysis of the ground water prior to drilling, one cannot be sure that the contamination is directly caused by the fracking industry.

    Personally, even though the evidence is sparse and inconclusive, I still believe the risks of contamination are too high for us to continue drilling for natural gas without significant oversight and regulation. A recent blowout in Bradford County, Pennsylvania has contaminated the immediate surrounding areas and three private wells with chemical-laced water. I feel strongly that fracking is unsafe as it is currently being carried out.

    Fortunately, the Obama administration has made it a priority to take a look at the hydraulic fracturing industry. On Thursday, the EPA announcedthe seven natural gas drilling sites where it will conduct case studies. The investigations will look at the impact of hydraulic fracturing on local drinking water.

    Here are my concerns about the EPA’s plan:

    First, there is little or no evidence that the toxic ingredients in fracking fluid have contaminated drinking water directly from the below-ground wells. Dangerous chemicals like benzene and acrylamide are known to be part of the fracking mixture, but legislation has protected the industry under intellectual property rights from fully revealing the contents. Therefore, investigators have been unable to do proper testing for all the chemicals contained in the mixture. Regardless, it seems that the fracking fluid and, in fact, the fracking process is not the problem.

    There are numerous physical arguments against the possibility that fracking fluid will find its way into drinking water during the hydraulic fracturing process. The pressures at those depths are so high it is unlikely the chemicals will be able to flow upward into the aquifer. Also, the permeability of the shale is so low it seems unlikely the chemicals will penetrate the rock. Of course, there is the possibility that the cracks created by the process could connect with natural cracks in the rock formations leading to a direct connection between the well and the aquifer, but this is statistically unlikely. My point is that if the EPA focuses on the fracking process alone it is unlikely that they will find a connection between drilling and contamination at the 7 selected sites.

    As described in the PNAS paper, the problem of contamination is most likely due to leaky gas-wells, not the hydraulic fracturing itself. The EPA investigators will need to look at the wells as well as the fracking process. However, because the sites have been announced ahead of time, the drillers can take special precautions to ensure high quality wells are drilled and that the concrete is poured properly so as to avoid any leaks or spills. If so, investigators may not find any contamination.

    Second, there are millions of natural gas wells across the country. Very few of them have been linked to any contamination. Statistically, for the EPA to choose only 7 wells, I believe it is highly unlikely they will find a correlation between drilling and contamination.

    Oh dear, so the EPA may have designed the safety study to specifically not look at likely sources of water contamination (cracked wells)? Well, at least one would hope there’s a moratorium on new drilling while the study is completed. And hope springs eternal:

    EPA says fears about fracking moratorium unfounded

    By JENNY MICHAEL | Bismarck Tribune | Posted: Tuesday, November 29, 2011 11:00 pm

    The Environmental Protection Agency said fears a moratorium will be placed on hydraulic fracturing are unfounded.

    The agency is in the process of conducting a congressionally-ordered study of hydraulic fracturing, also known as “fracking.” Hydraulic fracturing is used to retrieve natural gas and oil and is widely used in North Dakota’s oil fields. Pressurized fluids, which can include small amounts of diesel, are forced into fractures to extract the wanted substances.

    Separately, the EPA plans to issue guidelines for states such as North Dakota to issue permits for use of hydraulic fracturing involving diesel. The EPA has authority under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act to make sure hydraulic fracturing operations do not pollute drinking waters when diesel fuels are used in the processes, the agency said.

    The guidance document is not intended to be a regulatory document and would not itself require any state to change its regulations,” Jim Martin, EPA’s regional administrator in Denver. said in a statement to the Tribune. “In fact, it is based on existing best practices in use by the industry today.

    Cynthia Dougherty, EPA’s director of the Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water, said in the call that the agency is working on a definition of diesel. Martin, in his statement to the Tribune, said the EPA will provide additional opportunities for states, the public and other stakeholders to comment on its draft guidance as soon as it is ready.

    “The American people do not have to choose between securing an available energy resource and protecting its drinking water from pollution,” his statement said. “They can have and deserve both.”

    Umm, so the EPA’s flawed study is merely a “guidance document” that will be based on existing industry best practices? My hope for some change in policy isn’t feeling too springy right now. At least it sounds like we’ll have a new definition for diesel soon. That should be useful.

    Oh well, it’s still better than coal. At least it doesn’t pollute the air!

    Fracturing-Pollution Rule to Burden Gas Producers, API Says
    By Katarzyna Klimasinska – Dec 1, 2011 4:02 PM CT

    Air-pollution limits proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency for U.S. oil and gas production, including hydraulic fracturing, will be costly and waste time, the American Petroleum Institute said.

    The EPA’s plan to cut emissions of smog-forming volatile organic compounds by about a quarter, with an almost 95 percent reduction from new and updated gas wells using fracturing, or fracking, will require too many tests and reports, said Howard Feldman, API director of regulatory and scientific affairs.

    “These requirements will be overly burdensome,” Feldman said today on a conference call from Washington. “They will waste time and resources of the industry and the EPA.”

    Fracking is a technique used by companies such as Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM), Chesapeake Energy Corp. and Southwestern Energy Co. that injects chemicals and water into rock formations to free trapped gas. It has been tied to an increase in smog pollution in rural areas such as western Wyoming.

    The emission limits, incorporating four air regulations issued on Oct. 28, will trigger too much monitoring, and performance testing, and might cause a shortage of equipment necessary to abide by the rules, according to the industry group.

    The choice is clear: clean air testing or clean air testing equipment shortages. I think the *cough* proper *cough* approach is obvious *cough *wheeze* *gasp*. Breath in, drink up and taste the freedom America! And that diesel taste? That’s the freedom.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 1, 2011, 11:28 pm
  6. Happy frackin’ New Years everyone!

    Northeast Ohio rocked by 11th earthquake linked to Youngstown injection wells

    By Bob Downing
    Beacon Journal staff writer
    Published: December 31, 2011 – 05:51 PM

    The 4.0-magnitude quake was centered near Youngstown, reported the U.S. Geological Survey and the Ohio Earthquake Information Center.

    The earthquake at 3:05 p.m. was felt as far away as Michigan, Ontario, Pennsylvania and New York, reported Michael C. Hansen, state geologist and coordinator of the Ohio Seismic Network, part of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Geological Survey.

    The quake was the 11th over the last eight months in Mahoning County, all within two miles of the injection wells, he said. Saturday’s quake was the largest yet.

    A quake on Dec. 24 measured 2.4.

    There is “little doubt” that the quake is linked to injection wells that the state and the owner agreed on Friday to shut down, Hansen said.

    James Zehringer, director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, announced the closing of two injection wells in Youngstown Township owned by Northstar Disposal Services LLC and operated by D&L Energy Inc.

    The order to close came despite the fact that the state has been unable to prove that the wells, which are 9,000 feet deep, are the cause of the earthquakes.

    The wells were used to dispose of salty brine wastes from gas and oil drilling by pumping them under pressure into rock formations deep underground.

    The wells are among 177 in Ohio. Drilling wastes from Ohio and Pennsylvania are being pumped in increasing volumes into the wells for permanent disposal.

    Geologists have long suspected that injecting liquids into underground rock formations can trigger earthquakes along fault lines. The liquids allow rocks to flow more easily past each other.

    Earthquakes have been linked to injection wells in Arkansas, West Virginia, Colorado and Texas.

    The Ohio closing order took effect at 5 p.m. Friday but there would still have been pressure inside the two wells that could have triggered the quake, Hansen said.

    The latest quake appears to have been located about two- thirds of a mile from the injection wells and about 1.2 miles below ground, he said.

    This quake shows all the similarities of the 10 previous Youngstown quakes in 2011, he said.

    Ohio also worked with scientists from Columbia University who had installed four seismographs near the site.

    The first two Youngstown earthquakes occurred on March 17 and measured 2.1 and 2.6.

    The state became suspicious of the injection wells after the initial quakes, which are unusual events in the Youngstown area, he said.

    Earthquakes smaller than 4.0 generally do little damage. A 4.0-magnitude quake would release 40 times the energy of a 2.7 magnitude quake.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 31, 2011, 7:09 pm
  7. It looks like the New Years festivities are already kicking in…here’s the correct link to the above article.:-)

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 31, 2011, 7:10 pm
  8. Oh well, I’m sure we’ll find other reasons to poison the ground water:

    Marcellus Gas Reserves Estimate Cut by 66% on More Drilling Information
    By Christine Buurma – Jan 23, 2012 11:04 AM CT

    The U.S. Energy Department cut its estimate for natural gas reserves in the Marcellus shale formation by 66 percent, citing improved data on drilling and production.

    About 141 trillion cubic feet of gas can be recovered from the Marcellus shale using current technology, down from the previous estimate of 410 trillion, the department said today in its Annual Energy Outlook. About 482 trillion cubic feet can be produced from shale basins across the U.S., down 42 percent from 827 trillion in last year’s outlook.

    Drilling in the Marcellus accelerated rapidly in 2010 and 2011, so that there is far more information available today than a year ago,” the department said. The estimates represent unproved technically recoverable gas. The daily rate of Marcellus production doubled during 2011.

    The estimated Marcellus reserves would meet U.S. gas demand for about six years, using 2010 consumption data, according to the Energy Department, down from 17 years in the previous outlook.

    The Marcellus Shale is a rock formation stretching across the U.S. Northeast, including Pennsylvania and New York. Shale producers use a technique known as hydraulic fracturing, which involves pumping water, sand and chemicals underground to extract gas embedded in the rock.
    Geological Data

    The U.S. Geological Survey said in August that it would reduce its estimate of undiscovered Marcellus Shale natural gas by as much as 80 percent after an updated assessment by government geologists.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 23, 2012, 3:20 pm
  9. Well, there’s a first for everything:

    Live Science
    Rare Earthquake Warning Issued for Oklahoma
    By Becky Oskin, Senior Writer | May 05, 2014 03:30pm ET

    Mile for mile, there are almost as many earthquakes rattling Oklahoma as California this year. This major increase in seismic shaking led to a rare earthquake warning today (May 5) from the U.S. Geological Survey and the Oklahoma Geological Survey.

    In a joint statement, the agencies said the risk of a damaging earthquake — one larger than magnitude 5.0 — has significantly increased in central Oklahoma.

    Geologists don’t know when or where the state’s next big earthquake will strike, nor will they put a number on the increased risk. “We haven’t seen this before in Oklahoma, so we had some concerns about putting a specific number on the chances of it,” Robert Williams, a research geophysicist with the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program in Golden, Colorado, told Live Science. “But we know from other cases around the world that if you have an increasing number of small earthquakes, the chances of a larger one will go up.” [Watch 2500+ Oklahoma Earthquakes Since 2012 (Video)]

    That’s why earthquakes of magnitude 5 and larger are more frequent in states such as California and Alaska, where thousands of smaller temblors hit every year.

    This is the first time the USGS has issued an earthquake warning for a state east of the Rockies, Williams said. Such seismic hazard assessments are more typically issued for Western states following large quakes, to warn residents of the risk of damaging aftershocks, he said.

    The geological agencies took action after the rate of earthquakes in Oklahoma outpaced that of even California for the first few months of 2014. (California regained the lead in April.) [The 10 Biggest Earthquakes in History]

    “The rate of earthquakes increased dramatically in March and April,” Williams said. “That alerted us to examine this further and put out this advisory statement.”

    While Oklahoma’s buildings can withstand light earthquakes, the damage from a magnitude-5 temblor could be widespread. Oklahoma’s last major earthquake was in November 2011, when a magnitude-5.6 earthquake centered near Prague, Oklahoma, destroyed 14 homes and injured at least two people.

    “Building owners and government officials should have a special concern for older, unreinforced brick structures, which are vulnerable to serious damage during sufficient shaking,” Bill Leith, a USGS senior science adviser for earthquakes and geologic hazards, said in the joint statement.

    While scientists haven’t ruled out natural causes for the increase, many researchers suspect the deep injection wells used for the disposal of fracking wastewater could be causing the earthquake activity. Fracking, short for hydraulic fracturing, is a method of extracting oil and gas by cracking open underground rock.

    Ongoing studies have found a link between Oklahoma’s high-volume wastewater injection wells and regions with an uptick in earthquakes.

    Woohoo! The first earthquake warning east of the Rockies and we just might be able to thank fracking for that grand accomplishment. What other fracking-facilitated accomplishments are in store for us? We’ve seen a ‘first’. How about some ‘lasts’?

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 8, 2014, 10:14 am
  10. Finally, a feel good fracking story that we can all celebrate: scientists find that the earthquakes caused by fracking don’t cause nearly as shaking as those cause by natural earthquakes. It appears to be due to the fact that the fracking-induced earthquakes occur at much shallower depths than natural earthquakes, limiting the distance that the shockwaves propagate. It wasn’t all good news, however: the shallowness also meas that you live close enough to the synthetic quake to feel it the energy can reach your homes and buildings more easily. So it’s really only good news for people that are living relatively far from a fracking site and don’t care about the structural integrity of the homes and buildings that aren’t so lucky. Maybe it’s more of a feel bad story:

    The Grid
    Did You Feel It? Fracking Earthquakes Are Less Intense
    By Bebe Raupe Aug 20, 2014 2:39 PM CT

    Bloomberg BNA — Earthquakes and tremors from hydraulic fracturing shake the ground less than naturally occurring earthquakes of the same magnitude, therefore causing less damage, according to new U.S. Geological Survey research.

    USGS seismologist Susan Hough analyzed 11 induced earthquakes in the central and eastern United States from 2011-2013, evaluating the ground tremors these events generated.

    Using a USGS database known as the “Did You Feel It?” system, Hough said the observations of those who experienced the quakes were “very straightforward—in every single case the intensities are low.”

    Hough’s study, published online Aug. 19 in the “Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America,” concludes that the hazards of these quakes are lower than what might be expected, chiefly because induced events are 16 times weaker than natural earthquakes with the same magnitude.

    The earthquakes associated with fracking also tend to lose energy about six miles from their epicenter, Hough said, presumably because the fault is lubricated by the injected wastewater, making it easier to slip.

    Earthquakes have become a concern for states experiencing hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, of their shale reserves, with some reporting a significant increase in seismic activity, possibly due to deep water injection associated with this type of drilling

    Hough’s study looked at fracking-related quakes in Arkansas, Colorado, Oklahoma, Ohio and Texas using data from the “Did You Feel It” questionnaires completed online by people who felt the earthquakes and went to the USGS site to report them.

    She compared the induced quakes to 10 tectonic earthquakes from 2002 to 2011. The natural earthquakes had magnitudes between 4.0 and 5.8; the magnitude of the induced earthquakes was between 3.9 and 5.7.

    System Provides Shaking Intensity Characterization

    While instrumental recordings of injection-induced quakes are scant, the DYFI system provides an “excellent characterization of shaking intensities caused by induced earthquakes,” Hough said.

    The way an induced quake felt was equivalent, on average, to a natural quake that was of a magnitude 0.8 or less, Hough said.

    Based upon the USGS scale, a drop in 0.8 magnitude translates to about 16 times less strength or energy released, she said.

    Force of Energy Called Shallow

    Along with lower energy levels, Hough said the data suggest that the force of energy is shallow, perhaps due to the presence of fracking fluids, and the tremor’s force tends to dissipate at around six miles from the quake’s epicenter.

    Hough’s results suggest that damage from injection-induced earthquakes will be especially concentrated in the immediate epicentral region.

    Induced earthquakes may have lower stress drops than natural ones because the fluids injected into the ground lubricate geological faults and allow them to slip more smoothly, Hough said.

    Well that was some good news. Or bad news. It depends on where you live. And according to some researchers, you may not need to live particularly close to a fracking site in order to feel an earthquake. Why? Because the injected waste water appears to flow along fault lines, causing earthquakes as far as 22 miles away from the injection site according to the research. And as we keep injecting more waste water into those fault line, that area of lubricated fault lines keeps growing and growing, along with the probability of trigger a major quake:

    stands to get strongerThink Progress
    Oklahoma Gets Hit With 20 Earthquakes In One Day

    by Emily Atkin Posted on August 20, 2014 at 11:07 am

    Oklahoma’s Geology Survey recorded an unprecedented 20 small earthquakes across the state on Tuesday, highlighting the dramatic increase of seismic activity that has occurred there as the controversial process of hydraulic fracturing — otherwise known as fracking — has spread across the state.

    Though 18 out of the 20 earthquakes that occurred Tuesday were below Magnitude 3, rendering them mostly imperceptible, the largest one registered as a 4.3 near Guthrie, a city of more than 10,000 residents. And while U.S. Geological Survey scientists have said that Oklahoma is historically known as “earthquake country,” they also warn that quakes have been steadily on the rise; from 1978 until 2008, the average rate of earthquakes registering a magnitude of 3.0 or more was only two per year.

    “No documented cases of induced seismicity have ever come close to the current earthquake rates or the area over which the earthquakes are occurring,” the Oklahoma Geology Survey said in a recent presentation addressing the alarming increase in quakes. By “induced seismicity,” the OGS is referring to minor earthquakes that are caused by human activity, whether that be fracking, mass removal mining, reservoir impoundment, or geothermal production — anything that could disrupt existing fault lines.

    One of the most researched human activities that could be causing the dramatic increase in earthquakes is fracking. The process that could be causing the quakes is not the fuel extraction itself, but a process called “wastewater injection,” in which companies take the leftover water used to frack natural gas wells and inject it deep into the ground. Scientists increasingly believe that the large amount of water that is injected into the ground after a well is fracked can change the state of stress on existing fault lines to the point of failure, causing earthquakes.

    Cornell University geophysics professor Katie Keranen is the latest researcher to produce a scientific study showing a probable connection between earthquakes wastewater injection, finding in July that the more than 2,500 small earthquakes that have hit Oklahoma in the past five years can be linked to it. Keranen’s study analyzed four prolific wastewater disposal wells in southeast Oklahoma City, which collectively inject approximately four million barrels of wastewater into the ground each month. The research showed that fluid from those wells was migrating along fault lines for miles, and Keranen’s team determined the migration was likely responsible for earthquakes occurring as far as 22 miles away.

    The link between earthquakes and wastewater injection from fracking is not definitive. As Jennifer Dlouhy in Fuel Fix notes, the research lacks necessary data on sub-surface pressure, which is rarely accessible.

    The OGS says that as it is now, the chances of a large, damaging earthquake happening in Oklahoma are small. However, some scientists have warned that seismic activity stands to get stronger and more dangerous as fracking increases.

    I think ultimately, as fluids propagate and cover a larger space, the likelihood that it could find a larger fault and generate larger seismic events goes up,” Western University earth sciences professor Gail Atkinson said at a Seismological Society of America conference in May.

    Enjoy the fracking-related exports. And imports.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 23, 2014, 6:16 pm

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