Hydraulic fracturing, or the forcing open of fissures in underground rocks by injecting liquid at high pressure in order to extract oil and gas, is extremely controversial and environmentalists have always argued that the risks of fracking are not worth the rewards.
In what is probably a first, residents in Arkansas are suing Chesapeake Energy and BHP Billiton for damage resulting from fracking-related earthquakes.
In 2010 and 2011, central Arkansas was hit with a host of earthquakes that damaged businesses and homes, and all of this damage was proven to result by the fracking method of injecting waste water into deep wells. The Arkansas plaintiffs’ suits claim the quakes have made their homes unstable, unsafe, and therefore not livable.
The natural gas industry is not thrilled with the proven connection between earthquakes and fracking since the practice has been lucrative and helped the struggling US economy. Europe is no stranger to fracking protests, and now the US Geological Survey purports that as many as 1000 micro quakes hit Arkansas in 2010 and 2011 – far, far greater than the historical average correlated with increased fracking in the exact same area.
General concerns about fracking include ground water contamination, risks to air quality, migration of gases and hydraulic fracturing chemicals to the surface, mishandling of waste, and the health effects of all these, as well as its contribution to raised atmospheric CO2 levels.
Since 2009, more than 40 lawsuits related to fracking-damage have been filed.