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For the past five years, biochemist Zac Hildenbrand has investigated potential links between unconventional drilling and water quality, collecting thousands of samples throughout the major shale plays in Texas.
In Kern County, the shaking topped out on Sept. 22, 2005, with three quakes, the biggest magnitude 4.6, researchers said.
The government will study whether the practice is safe for the environment.
The quakes, which have been mostly small to medium sized, have caused limited damage, and no one foresees anything like the massive damage and deaths in the famous quakes in California, seismologists say.
The Oklahoma Geological Survey has said it is “very likely” that most earthquakes are triggered by the subsurface injection of wastewater from the drilling operations.
The Oklahoma Corporation Commission issued a voluntary directive to a dozen energy companies Dec. 3 after the Medford and Cherokee area felt a swarm of earthquakes, including a 4.7-magnitude quake.
Pennsylvania-based Air Products is planning for the world-scale steam methane reformer plant in Texas to produce 125 million cubic feet a day of hydrogen and carbon monoxide, much of which will ship through its Gulf Coast pipeline that runs from the Houston Ship Channel to New Orleans.
The Oklahoma Corporation Commission, which regulates the state’s oil and natural gas industry, on Monday ordered five wastewater injection wells to reduce volume after a swarm of quakes.
An EPA spokeswoman said the agency will use comments from the scientists and the public to “evaluate” possible changes to the report.
Quakes have been on the rise in Oklahoma following a boom in oil and gas activity — state officials have blamed the seismic activity on an increase in wastewater injections in drilling areas.