Fracking Banned By New Mexico County

The residents of Ocate, NM have banned the practice of fracking in their county.  The residents are concerned about the practice because they get their drinking water from wells. In April, Mora County, which includes Ocate, described as a “poor, conservative ranching” area, became the first county in the US “to pass an ordinance banning” fracking. The lack of alternatives to well water for the county’s residents ties in with the community’s tradition of keeping its “culture and way of life” intact, according to a story published in the Los Angeles Times.  The population of about 5,000 includes 67% Spanish speakers, and many expressed anger “about the way energy companies’ ‘land men’ treated them.”

Fracking has recently been cited as a contributing factor to several earthquakes in Oklahoma.  In a study published in the scientific journal Geology, scientists says the largest recorded earthquake in Oklahoma history was likely triggered by the injection of wastewater from oil production into wells deep beneath the earth.

Fracking and other advanced methods of oil and gas drilling create massive amounts of toxic wastewater. For example, fracking, uses high-pressure water to unlock natural gas from shale formations. Drillers also use water to force oil from wells that cannot be captured through traditional methods, part of a practice known as “enhanced oil recovery.”

The use of such methods has exploded in the United States in recent years, contributing to the domestic boom in shale gas and oil production. However, much of the wastewater that emerges as a byproduct is simply pumped back into wells beneath the earth’s surface for disposal.

Although the controversial practice of fracking has been directly linked to at least two seismic events (small tremors in Garvin County, Oklahoma and Lancashire, England), the wastewater injection that follows fracking is much more likely to result in an earthquake. That’s because injection wells receive far more water than fracking sites.  And unlike fracking sites, the water is not removed at the injection wells.  As wastewater is injected back into the wells, pressure builds and pushes against geological faults, sometimes causing them to rupture, which can trigger an earthquake.

Energy companies continue to deny any causal link between earthquakes and fracking, but as the practice continues in locations where earthquakes do not typically occur, people and scientists will continue to raise questions about the steps the industry has taken to examine the consequences of fracking, and what it knew about the practice.

For more information, contact our Tulsa personal injury office.

Read More here: A New Mexico county’s fracking ban is all about the water