Fracking caused earthquake in northeastern B.C.: CBC report

Canada’s Green party is calling for more investment in sustainable energy following confirmation that fracking triggered a 4.4-magnitude earthquake in northeastern B.C. last year.

B.C.’s Oil and Gas Commission has confirmed the earthquake felt in Fort St. John and Fort Nelson in August 2014 was triggered by fluid injection during hydraulic fracturing, according to a CBC story posted Wednesday. The news agency also reported that it was Progress Energy’s operations that were associated with triggering the earthquake.

Green party leader Elizabeth May issued a statement immediately following the news, saying that “this earthquake confirms that fracking is a dangerous and environmentally irresponsible practice.”

Last week, there was a slightly larger earthquake — 4.5 on the Richter scale — north of Fort St. John, that the commission told the Alaska Highway News was “likely” caused by hydraulic fracturing in the area.

May said an earthquake of this magnitude could “have devastating implications” for the environment and the Halfway River First Nations community.

The statement says according to B.C.’s energy regulator, many earthquakes have been caused by hydraulic fracturing or the “fracking” process that energy companies use to extract gas. Studies have linked fracking with earthquakes in the U.K., Oklahoma and B.C., May added.

May supports the elimination of all fossil fuel subsidies, including fracking subsidies introduced in the 2015 budget.

“The link between earthquakes and fracking has been proven, so why does (Prime Minister) Stephen Harper continue to allow fracking, while providing subsidies to big oil companies? The Green party is against subsidies and supports to the oil, coal, gas and coal bed methane industries in Canada. These industries are not sustainable and contribute to greenhouse gas emissions,” May said, in the statement.

Hydraulic fracturing — or fracking as it is more commonly known — is a process that involves pumping a mixture of water, sand and chemicals deep underground at high pressure to fracture rocks, allowing the trapped natural gas to flow and then be pumped to the surface.

Earlier this year, a consortium that includes B.C.-government backed Geoscience BC appointed seismologist Alireza Babaie Mahani to a two-year term to examine monitoring data from continuing small earthquakes in northeastern B.C. linked to fracking.

The consortium — which also includes energy companies and the Science and Community Environmental Knowledge Fund — created an expanded monitoring program in 2013. The monitoring network now includes an additional eight seismic stations to the two original stations.

The expanded monitoring was a result of a finding in 2012 by the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission that a spate of small earthquakes in the Horn River Basin were caused by fracking.

While most of the small quakes in northeastern B.C. have been less than 2.5 on the Richter scale, a quake in 2013 was above four, and in 2014, there was a 3.9 quake and another above four.


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