By Eliza Laubach
The sharp increase in earthquakes in the central and eastern United States since 2009 is linked to injecting wastewater underground, the U.S. Geological Survey stated in a recent report. This waste is backwash from fracking, a form of drilling used to free natural gas and oil from shale rock formations. It involves injecting water, chemicals and sand at high pressure deep into the ground. After the wastewater resurfaces, oil and gas companies will inject it back into the ground for storage, which can create seismic disturbances, the USGS confirmed.
Expressing concern that fracking may threaten local water supplies, the town of Berea, Ky. passed a resolution that advises against the unconventional drilling practice. The resolution calls for a review of land use and zoning regulations in regards to fracking, according to the Richmond Register. Just weeks after the measure passed unanimously in April, Kentucky’s first fracking permit was approved in Johnson County, east of Berea.
In Virginia, State Attorney General Mark Herring reversed a standing precedent preventing local governments from passing laws banning fracking. Municipalities that choose to allow fracking may now regulate fracking through their zoning rules, wrote Herring. In early June, the state of Maryland passed a temporary moratorium, following suit with New York’s and New Jersey’s bans.
A federal judge has halted drilling permit approvals in North Carolina until a decision is made on a lawsuit filed by the state’s Gov. Pat McCrory against the state legislature. The lawsuit filed this spring questions the constitutionality of several energy and environment boards, and casts doubt on the legality of fracking in the state. Largely ignored by the industry due to unconfirmed gas reserves, the state has received no permit applications since legislators opened it to fracking in March.