Ohio, especially the eastern portion of the state, sits on a huge shale deposit known as the Marcellus Shale Formation. This formation has huge implications for domestic energy production, but comes with a litany of environmental liabilities. For the uninformed, Hydraulic Fracturing (also known as “Fracking” in the vernacular) is essentially a method of pumping a chemical cocktail into the earth, thus fracturing shale and releasing natural gas. The natural gas is then captured and becomes energy for a more “economically sustainable” America. The problem is that these short term economic benefits are likely to be overshadowed by significant liabilities in the long term. For one, landowners in rural Ohio have been concerned for a long time about the effect of fracking on the groundwater in their communities. It is quite common for those affected by these deleterious effects of Fracking to fall ill, and in extreme cases, can even light their water on fire. More troubling perhaps is a recent study linking fracking to increased seismic activity. As the study notes:
[The fluids] kind of act as a pressurized cushion,” lead author Nicholas van der Elst of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University explained to Mother Jones. “They make it easier for the fault to slide.”
The finding is not entirely surprising, said van der Elst. Scientists have known for a long time that areas with naturally high subsurface fluid pressures—places like Yellowstone, for example—can see an uptick in seismic activity after a major earthquake even very far away. But this is the first time they’ve found a link between remote quakes and seismic activity in places where human activity has increased the fluid pressure via underground injections.