A series of earthquakes near Youngstown, Ohio were probably spurred by a natural gas drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing, or hydrofracking, according to oil and gas regulators.
The tremors all occurred within a mile radius of a Youngstown, Ohio well. A report by the state's Department of Natural Resources said that the timing and location of the earthquakes strongly suggested a connection to drilling occuring at the well, although they added that properly managed wells should not cause earthquakes.
A number of coincidental circumstances appear to make a compelling argument for the recent Youngstown-area seismic events to have been induced, the report read.
The finding, which prompted the Department of Natural Resources to propose new drilling regulations, will likely add fuel to a smoldering debate over hydrofracking. The process involves blasting a pressurized mixture of sand, chemicals and water deep undergound to loosen the natural gas trapped in rock formations.
Recommends Electronic Tracking Of Well Operators
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources' recommendations include electronically tracking the chemical content of waste water and requiring well operators to offer more thorough geological data when seeking a well permit.
While the energy industry has pushed to exploit America's vast deposits of natural gas, environmental advocates have warned that hydrofracking poses a threat to public health and safety. Political battles over regulating the industry have played out in states, including Pennsylvania and Ohio, that sit atop a massive rock formation rich in natural gas known as the Marcellus Shale. President Barack Obama has embraced natural gas drilling as a potential economic boon that could lessen dependency on foreign energy sources.