Topic: Kansas

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Study observes possible links between hydraulic fracturing wastewater injection and seismic activity in Kansas

A new study published this month purports to link seismic activity in Kansas to wastewater disposal associated with hydraulic fracturing. Justin Rubinstein, the lead researcher, suggested that further research was needed to examine the effects of wastewater injections, stating that this study was “the tip of the iceberg as far as what we’re going to learn.”

The study examined ongoing seismicity in two counties in southern Kansas from 2013-2016, observing correlations between increases in seismic activity subsequent to increases in wastewater disposal via deep-injection wells. Additionally, seismic activity appeared to decreased at the same time as economic and regulatory forces … Continue Reading

Sierra Club files earthquake lawsuit and Oklahoma regulators issue disposal injection reduction plan

Sierra Club makes induced seismicity claims against energy companies in federal lawsuit under Resource Conservation and Recovery Act

Days after a 5.1 magnitude quake shook Oklahoma on February 13, 2016, a federal suit claiming induced seismicity was filed. Sierra Club v. Chesapeake Operating LLC, et al., No. CIV-16-134-F, (W.D. Okla. filed Feb. 16, 2016). The suit, filed under the citizen suit provision of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, 42 U.S.C. § 6972(a)(1)(B), is brought on behalf of Sierra Club members in Oklahoma and Kansas who have allegedly suffered property damage from earthquakes. The complaint claims earthquakes allegedly induced … Continue Reading

Latest study adds to debate over the alleged connection between fracking and seismic activity

Scientists are in the midst of a heated debate concerning the alleged connection between hydraulic fracturing and seismic activity. To date, scientists have been unable to reach a consensus on this issue. The latest study appears to continue that trend. Geologists in Kansas recently released a study suggesting that there is a correlation between oil and gas operations and seismic activity—specifically, the injection of wastewater.

Indeed, Bill Buchanan, the director of the Kansas Geological Survey, testified before Kansas House Energy and Environment Committee that there is likely a link between seismic activity in the state and disposal wells. That said, … Continue Reading

EPA reviews states’ solid waste management regulations for oil and gas operations

In an April 1, 2014 memorandum, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) summarized state regulatory programs concerning the management of solid waste from oil and natural gas exploration, development and production (E&P) operations.

In reviewing each state’s regulations, the EPA focused on surface storage and disposal facilities managing produced waters, drilling muds, drilling cuttings, hydraulic fracturing return fluids, and various other waste liquids and materials intrinsically related to oil and gas E&P.

The EPA found that the state regulations were primarily concerned with the “technical requirements associated with the design, construction, operation, maintenance, closure, and reclamation of surface pits, … Continue Reading

Lesser prairie-chicken added to US Fish and Wildlife Service’s list of threatened species

After more than 15 years of review, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced on March 27, 2014 that the lesser prairie-chicken, a species of prairie grouse, is a “threatened” species, a step below “endangered” under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

The lesser prairie-chicken’s population is in rapid decline, due largely to habitat loss and fragmentation and the on-going drought in the southern Great Plains.

Once abundant across much of the five range states of Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado, the lesser prairie-chicken’s habitat of native grasslands and prairies has been reduced by an estimated 84%. The … Continue Reading

Kansas Governor creates panel to study possible connection between recent earthquakes and oil and gas activities

Governor Sam Brownback has created a 3-person task force to study whether oil and gas activities such as hydraulic fracturing are connected to the increased number of minor earthquakes occurring in south central Kansas, near the Kansas-Oklahoma border.

The Kansas Geological Survey has recorded more than 24 minor earthquakes in the past two years. Two earthquakes were recently measured in that area—one on December 16, 2013 and a second on February 3, 2014, with magnitudes of 3.8 and 3.9 respectively.

No damage was reported from these earthquakes, with one county official noting that “no cows tipped over.” According to the … Continue Reading

What’s shaking? Induced seismicity

The US Geological Survey (USGS) has long studied and prepared hazard maps predicting the risks of natural earthquakes. Now the USGS plans to integrate information relating to induced earthquakes and potentially induced earthquakes into its National Seismic Hazard Map.

Since its last earthquake map in 2008, the USGS has identified a “remarkable” spate of earthquakes triggered by industrial activities in parts of the country.

The USGS sees this increased induced seismicity to be a hazard that should be analyzed. In assessing the risk, the scientists need to determine whether the activity causing the earthquakes is likely to end quickly or … Continue Reading

President Obama promises to veto hydraulic fracturing bill and other energy-related legislation

On November 20, 2013, the U.S. House of Representatives approved two energy-related bills – one bill concerning hydraulic fracturing regulations on federal lands (H.R. 2728) and the second relating to applications for permits to drill (H.R. 1965). Two other energy bills are pending, one dealing with the permitting of natural gas pipelines (H.R. 1900) and the other with the standards to be used by the EPA in disseminating its report on the impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources (H.R. 2850).

President Obama has threatened to veto at least three of these measures in the unlikely event they pass … Continue Reading

Fracking disclosure rules proposed in Kansas

The director of the Kansas Corporation Commission’s Oil and Gas Conservation Division (KCCOGC) has proposed rules that would require oil and natural gas companies to disclose non-trade secret chemicals that they use in hydraulic fracturing activities. Pointing out that the physical act of hydraulic fracturing has been regulated for years under Kansas’ wellbore construction and waste handling and disposal rules, the director stated that chemical disclosure was needed due to the significant number of wells using the fracking procedure near larger population areas. Under the rules, the disclosures would be made directly to the KCCOGC or through the “chemical disclosure … Continue Reading

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