Tahlequah Daily Press


June 27, 2014

Does fracking cause earthquakes? Just in case, get insurance

TAHLEQUAH — There are no professional geologists on the staff of the Tahlequah Daily Press, so we can’t unequivocally say just how much damage fracking is causing to the environment. But we do recommend Okies get earthquake insurance on their property, sooner rather than later.

Common logic suggests that, no matter what oil industry tycoons say, the use of hydraulic fracturing to extract natural gas from the earth must be having some kind of effect – at least, to the regions where it’s being used. Here’s how it works: About 7,000 feet below the planet’s surface, gases, oil and water are embedded in certain types of porous rock. Fracking essentially shakes loose the substance from the rocks and diverts it into wells. Horizontal “veins” are established from a vertical well, which is pumped full of water, sand and other “chemical additives at intensely high pressure. This pressure creates fissures in the rock, and gases from those pores shoot off into the cracks.

Critics say fracking causes earthquakes, and a layman reading the description of the process would find that claim rational. The concern that fracking is contaminating drinking water is also makes sense, and there is plenty of evidence to bolster both assertions. Energy industry dignitaries pooh-pooh the claims, and they have geologists on their payrolls to back them up. Meanwhile, other geologists on other payrolls insist that earthquakes and contamination – both of groundwater and the ground itself – are real hazards.

Whom do we believe? Well, it depends on where our bread is buttered.

Many experts in the field acknowledge that fracking may, indeed, be a risky business, but say the risk is worth taking if the process can wean the United States off its dependence on foreign oil. Some of these folks are well-acquainted with the seemingly eternal turmoil in the Middle East, so their viewpoint can’t be so readily dismissed.

One telling factor should be the revelation made in February by Forbes magazine and other sources with impeccable pro-industry credentials that ExxonMobile CEO Rex Tillerson had filed a lawsuit to shut down a fracking project in close proximity to his Texas ranch. Other long-time fans of the fracking process – like former Republican U.S. House member Dick Armey – joined in the suit to prevent what they called an “eyesore” from being built near their swanky suburb.

In other words, on an official level, Tillerson and Co. objected not to the possible hazards of nearby fracking, but because a tower for it would be ugly to look at. We’re not sure we buy that excuse.

If fracking is perfectly safe, and a vital component of the United States’ industry policy, then why don’t its most ardent supporters want it to hit too close to home?

We won’t get the answers at our lowly level of existence here in Cherokee County, but given the increased amount of earthquake activity in this state – arguably, since fracking got underway in earnest – we suggest local homeowners ask their agents about riders on their policies.

At the risk of sounding like shills for the insurance industry, we think it might be better to be safe than sorry.

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  • Tourism Council and chamber should cut the proverbial cord

    They are defined by two separate purposes and operate under two distinctive sets of bylaws, but years of conflicting opinions have left lingering questions and confusion over the relationship between the decades-old Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce and the younger Tahlequah Area Tourism Council.

    July 30, 2014

  • NSU needs to be more candid when its plans go awry

    Many area residents were disappointed to learn this week that the NSU Fitness Center, and its all-important indoor lap pool, won’t open next month, as originally announced.
    This latest delay is no surprise.

    July 28, 2014

  • Higher premiums a just reward for drunken drivers

    Over the past several years, Oklahoma has slipped in many of the polls that count. This week, we learned Tulsa is No. 4 on a list of cities with high rates of fatal DUI accidents. Is anyone really surprised?

    July 25, 2014

  • Maybe it’s time to think about having another BalloonFest

    The 18th annual BalloonFest was the last one held, in 2010. In summer 2011, when the Daily Press staff hadn’t heard anything about the much-anticipated event, we started asking questions.

    July 23, 2014

  • If you see a drunken driver, take the time to call in a report

    If you see something, say something. You’ve heard the warning, and seen it imprinted on placards at airports. In the wake of 9/11, it became a national mantra, mainly aimed at spotting potential terrorist activities. But it’s good advice anytime, and for any reason, even at the local level.

    July 14, 2014

  • City officials should stop squabbling and try to work together

    It’s bad enough that the Chamber of Commerce scandal has given Tahlequah a black eye. But if the bickering among city officials doesn’t stop, the community will have a complete set of shiners for its public face.

    July 11, 2014

  • Only full disclosure will restore trust in the chamber

    Despite pressure from some quarters, neither the Press nor anyone else who values full disclosure will be clamming up until all the facts are known, and those who are responsible meet with justice.

    July 10, 2014

  • Only full disclosure will restore trust in the chamber

    A few board members for the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce are saying they’ve heard nothing but positive things lately – about the chamber itself, and presumably, about themselves.

    July 9, 2014

  • Employer-sponsored insurance may now be a ‘hostage’ situation

    When the fallout settles from the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, many Americans might decide they’re better off with health insurance that doesn’t come from their boss.

    July 7, 2014

  • With confidence in Congress at 7 percent, time for a new slate

    Note to Congress: We don’t like you. Not at all.
    A Gallup poll released Monday, June 30 confirmed what most of us already know: the American public is disgusted with the House and Senate. The survey recorded the lowest level of confidence since Gallup began asking the question in 1991: a whopping 7 percent. That’s not a typographical error; it’s a single digit.

    July 2, 2014


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