The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Earthquakes and Oil Profits

Oct 3, 2016

A 5.6 magnitude earthquake struck Oklahoma on September 2 in the region where drilling for shale oil is most intense. If the damage was minor and no one was hurt, it was only because the earthquake happened in the middle of nowhere.

That makes the second 5.6 magnitude earthquake in Oklahoma in five years; the biggest two ever recorded in the state. And hundreds more earthquakes have been recorded – 2,500 in 2015, alone, compared to only three in 2005. In Texas, earthquakes recently hit in regions that never had them before, like near the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

So what has caused all this recent earthquake activity? Many geologists say the earthquakes are tied to fracking, which has grown at the same pace as earthquakes occurred. Of course, the oil companies in Oklahoma and Texas deny there is a link, as do the much larger energy companies that feed off them.

Deny it they can, but the procedure itself obviously disturbs layers of the earth below the surface. Drilling deep into the earth for shale oil, in the process known as fracking, ejects thousands of gallons of extremely salty water along with the gas and oil, thus opening up the possibility of fractures in the lower strata of the earth. In order to get rid of this poisonous water, the companies then inject it back deep into the earth, under pressure, leading to a wide web of fractures. Seems like a recipe for some kind of problem.

Given that earthquakes have increased along with fracking, wouldn’t it be obvious to stop fracking until geologists can find out more about what’s happening?

Instead, fracking keeps growing. Why? Because finding oil and gas brings with it big profits. The oil industry, like all other industries in this capitalist society, is not in business to ensure that safety is built into employment and the environment where work takes place. No, they are in business to grab the largest profits they can, in the shortest possible time, let population safety – and the earth – be damned.