The legal system should be completely changed so that hydraulic fracturing companies can be sued without any burden of proof, according to a law school professor writing in The Wall Street Journal Sunday.
“Oil and gas companies should be held liable—whether they have acted negligently or not—if their disposal of fracking waste causes earthquakes.” writes Blake Watson, a professor at the University of Dayton School of Law. The professor goes on to claim wastewater disposal and fracking have “contributed to a surge in earthquakes in the region. But there’s still the difficulty of assigning responsibility to energy companies for damages stemming from a particular quake.”
His solution is for courts to declare fracking an “abnormally dangerous activity,” a legal category normally reserved for “ultra-hazardous” activities like manufacturing explosives. This will allow fracking companies to be sued without the plaintiff needing to show fault or negligence. Effectively, such legal action will ban fracking completely.
Despite Watson’s claims, the article goes on to say “[s]cientists are only now beginning to connect seismic activity to certain types of drilling-related activities, and are still exploring whether a causal relationship between those particular activities and quakes can be determined.”
Though it is impossible to say if any particular earthquake was caused by any particular drilling operation, the scientific evidence does show earthquakes that have been linked to wastewater disposal are incredibly small. Wastewater disposal is only linked to earthquakes below magnitude 3, which are so weak that most people don’t even realize an earthquake is occurring and are only felt by people in a tall building.
The website of the United States Geological Survey (USGS) even says “Hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as ‘fracking’, does not appear to be linked to the increased rate of magnitude 3 and larger earthquakes.” There has never been an injury resulting from an earthquake induced by fracking.
Fracking earthquake myths from environmentalists are so widespread that the USGS actually maintains a “Myths and Misconceptions” section of its website to debunk them.
Despite the scientific consensus, environmental groups have tried to blame fracking for just about everything, including droughts, drinking water contamination, flaming tap-water, poverty, income inequality, and even low sperm counts.
These objections have been all conclusively debunked.
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