ABC’s “World News Tonight With David Muir” cited “experts” Thursday who claimed hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, caused Oklahoma earthquakes, even though a federal science agency contradicted the claims. When asked to identify these so-called experts, ABC refused.
When The Daily Caller News Foundation contacted ABC News to identify the “experts,” the news organization responded, “We don’t have the specifics on that.”
In the news segment, David Muir discussed a recent swarm of earthquakes in Oklahoma, specifically citing two earthquakes of magnitude 4.8 and 4.4. The news outlet claimed “experts continue to say the increase in quakes could very well be linked to fracking in that region.” ABC News correctly stated that the swarm of earthquake did not cause any deaths or injuries.
The United States Geological Survey (USGS), the federal government’s geological research agency, does not list either the 4.8 and the 4.4 earthquakes cited by ABC as caused by fracking. Other recent earthquakes with magnitudes greater than 4.0 in Oklahoma are also not linked to fracking.
“Hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as ‘fracking’, does not appear to be linked to the increased rate of magnitude 3 and larger earthquakes,” states the USGS website.
Most scientists say fracking doesn’t cause earthquakes of that size, but media outlets and environmental groups have continued to link fracking to earthquakes, especially in Oklahoma. Fracking-earthquake myths told by environmentalists and media outlets are so widespread that the USGS actually maintains a “Myths and Misconceptions” section of its website to debunk them.
The “controversial method of hydraulic fracturing or fracking, even though that may be used in the drilling, is not physically causing the shakes,” USGS researcher William Ellsworth told The Associated Press.
Dr. Matthew Hornback, a professor of geophysics at Southern Methodist University, told lawmakers in May, “[w]e’re not talking at all about fracking. In fact, it’s been driving us crazy, frankly, that people keep using it in the press,” when asked if fracking causes significant earthquakes.
Earthquakes are measured on a logarithmic scale, and the difference between whole numbers on the scale is huge. A 9.0 quake can devastate a country, while a 3.0 quake generally cannot be felt. An earthquake that measures 3.0 on the Richter scale releases 31 times the energy of a 2.0 quake and has a shaking amplitude 10 times smaller than that of a 3.0 quake.
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