Are earthquakes caused by fracking?

Fracking (KSN photo)

WICHITA, Kansas – Earthquakes in Southern Kansas have become more common over the past two years.

According to the Kansas Geological Society, there have been more than two dozen earthquakes in south central Kansas in just the past three years.

Gov. Sam Brownback is naming a three member task force to study if an increase in hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking, is linked to an uptick in seismic activity.

This debate has been heating up for some time and is getting even more attention recently following reports of quakes in our area. But the two sides; those for and against fracking don’t see eye to eye on the possible connection.

Kansas is more famous for its tornadoes, than its earthquakes, but according to the USGS, there’s no denying quakes are here. Some say fracking is to blame, including members of the Sierra Club of Kansas, who’ve been fighting for stricter regulations.

“People should be very concerned about it I know myself and most people in the Wichita area have felt quakes during the last year to three years,” Yvonne Cather of the Sierra Club.

While scientists are largely undecided on the issue, Kansas is investing in more seismic monitoring to study the issues further.

Ed Cross is the president of the State’s Independent Oil and Gas Association. He says earthquakes have been happening in Kansas for millennia.

“One of the things that often is out there is they try to relate unrelated incidents to hydraulic fracturing and the national academy of sciences was the latest study that has come out and that was in 2012 that shows no connection between hydraulic fracturing and earthquakes, they are talking about disposal and waste management issues,” Cross said.

“What does it make a difference it still causes earthquakes, if you didn’t try to extract the oil and the gas you wouldn’t have the waste water,” Cather said.

Down in Harper County, fracking has been in full swing for several years. The county’s economic development director says he’s met with geologists and weighed the risks.

“Definitely, the fracking plays a factor in the earthquakes, as far as any of the geologists saying if we’ll have any major disasters, you know, not that they foresee,” said Economic Development Director Mike Lanie.

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