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Thu, 2014-11-13 04:00Julie Dermansky
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Texas Regulators Sidestep Connection Between Fracking Industry and Earthquakes

XTO wastewater disposal plant

New rules for Texas injection wastewater well operators offer no relief to people impacted by more than 30 earthquakes that hit Azle, Reno and Springtown almost a year ago. Many buildings in the three small cities, 50 miles west of Dallas, Texas, suffered broken windows, cracked walls, damaged plumbing and foundations. 

Seismic activity is not something the region is known for. It was only after deep injection disposal wells used to house fracking's toxic wastewater went into operation that the earthquakes started. There are several injection wells in the area — three of which some suspect to be the cause of the quakes due to their proximity to impacted neighborhoods and the volume of disposal operations. 


Crack in an Azle, Texas, residence that opened after an earthquake. ©2014 Julie Dermansky 

“Injection raises the underground pressure and can effectively lubricate fault lines, weakening them and causing earthquakes, according to the U.S Geological Survey,” reports McClatchy Washington Bureau

The Texas Railroad Commission, the agency that regulates the oil and gas industry, was met with public outcry after the first earthquake swarm. The commissioners acted fast (by the agency’s standards), coming up with new rules to address the situation released on Oct. 28.  

The new rules require oil and gas companies to check local seismic data from the U.S. Geological Survey before opening a new waste disposal well. They also give the agency the power to change, suspend or revoke an injection operator’s permit if the commission determines the well is contributing to seismic activity.

Mon, 2009-09-07 08:38Peter Sinclair
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Climate Denial Crock of the Week/1998 Revisited

One of the enduring myths of climate denialism is that global warming stopped sometime in the last decade. I see it in the blaring headlines of pseudoscience websites, in comments on my videos, even some of our most “distinguished” journalists have been taken in.

Mon, 2009-01-19 09:51Jeremy Jacquot
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Solar Forcing and Global Warming: Here We Go Again

Global warming skepticism knows no (planetary) bounds. The big scientific news of the week was the discovery of methane plumes rising from Mars’ surface. Because methane release on Earth is commonly associated with microbial digestion, NASA researchers believe the greenhouse gas could be a sign of life.

In a new paper published in the journal Science, Michael Mumma, the project’s lead scientist, hypothesizes that bacteria buried one to two miles below the red planet’s surface could be producing the plumes. The other possibility is that the gas is being generated by vulcanism or another geologic process – though that seems less likely since there has been no evidence of active volcanoes. This uncertainty, on top of recent warming trends, has led some to speculate that solar activity may be responsible for Martian climate change.

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