Energy companies that produce oil and natural gas by fracking, and dispose of huge quantities of wastewater containing chemicals as part of the process, seem to be causing a very large increase in the number of earthquakes in areas where fracking occurs.
A June 10, 2015 United States Geological Survey article titled "6 Facts about Human-caused Earthquakes" states "injecting fluid underground can cause earthquakes, a fact that was established decades ago by USGS scientists."
According to a November 18, 2016 Associated Press article that is available on numerous websites, including a webpage on the Tulsa World website, residents of Pawnee, Oklahoma have filed a class-action lawsuit against 27 companies due to damages from earthquakes believed to be caused by wastewater disposal from fracking.
I am surprised that there have not been more lawsuits and more outrage over this practice. While widespread availability of relatively cheap oil and natural gas has many benefits, the risks and damages that occur from producing it also need to be considered.
I am not stating that fracking must stop, or even that disposal of wastewater by injecting it into the ground must cease. But, if it is demonstrated that these oil and natural gas producers are directly responsible (as seems likely) for the large increase in earthquakes and the damages the earthquakes cause, then these companies are presumably liable for reimbursing those impacted by the damages.
I am not a lawyer and cannot give legal advice. But it seems to me that if it has been known for decades that injecting fluids into the ground can lead to earthquakes, and it is known that there has been a huge increase in the number of earthquakes in areas where fluids have been injected into the ground in recent years, that it is logical that this fluid injection is the likely cause of these earthquakes.
I strongly support holding these energy companies liable for the damages they are causing. Even if persons feel that the benefits of the oil and gas production via this method justify allowing it to continue, the persons who suffer damages from the earthquakes deserve compensation for their damages as I see it. If the cost of providing this compensation to victims of earthquakes leads to the oil and gas companies (1) finding more environmentally friendly ways of producing the oil or gas and/or (2) raising oil and gas prices to pay for the cost of paying for the damages and for the lawsuits, (3) and/or turning to alternative energy sources or others doing so, then that seems to be what needs to occur.
Oil and natural gas have provided many benefits over the years as energy sources. But these benefits need to be weighed against the negative impacts of the production, transportation, and consumption of this natural gas and oil.
NOTE: This article for Newsvine is basically a reprint of an article I published on November 18, 2016 on two other websites. I published this Newsvine article later on the same day, November 18, 2016, and this Newsvine article was last revised on November 19, 2016.