Media outlets were quick to wrongly blame hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, for a magnitude 5.6 earthquake in Oklahoma over the weekend.
“Experts have stated over and over again that the fracking is not the cause of earthquakes in Oklahoma. Wastewater disposal from day-to-day production — a completely separate process from fracking — is the likely cause,” Seth Whitehead, a researcher for the pro-industry group Energy In Depth, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
“Unfortunately, the false notion that fracking causes earthquakes prevails — and many media outlets’ coverage of the earthquake near Pawnee, Oklahoma, over Labor Day weekend is the prime example why. Many click-bait happy media outlets seemed more interested in getting the word ‘fracking’ in headlines than reporting the facts.”
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) states in the very first sentence of its list of earthquakes myths and misconceptions that “Fracking is NOT causing most of the induced earthquakes,” further clarifying that “Wastewater disposal is the primary cause of the recent increase in earthquakes in the central United States.” The “controversial method of hydraulic fracturing or fracking, even though that may be used in the drilling, is not physically causing the shakes,” USGS researcher William Ellsworth told The Associated Press.
“Its very aggravating when you read a story claiming the USGS has linked fracking directly to earthquakes,” Whitehead said. “Government research has shown that the exact opposite is true. The agency has done everything it can to clear up the media’s confusion. There’s no ambiguity at all as far as expert opinion goes. Expert after expert has weighed in on this issue and none of them say the quakes are caused by fracking.”