Congressional report suggests that fracking does not cause increased seismicity

The increase of seismic activity in the United States has led many to blame hydraulic fracturing (fracking) operations. However, a recent study from the United States Congressional Research Service suggests that those allegations are unwarranted. The report largely discredited claims that hydraulic fracturing is the culprit for increased seismic activity.

According to the report, fracking leads to microseismicity that is generally too small in magnitude to cause any damage. In fact, any seismic activity caused by fracking is usually too small to be noticed. As for the small number of earthquakes associated with fracking that are detectable, the earthquakes are generally not large enough to cause any damage.

Although the report found more of a correlation between the use of disposal wells and increased seismicity, the connection is still tenuous. In fact, the report concluded that only a small number of disposal wells are even associated with earthquakes.

Moreover, the report noted that the EPA has suggested that other factors must usually exist before disposal wells cause any seismic activity. Ultimately, the report concluded that future efforts aimed at reducing seismicity will likely focus on the small number of disposal wells found to have a connection with seismicity rather than disposal wells in general.

Read the report.

This post was written by Barclay Nicholson ( or 713 651 3662) and Johnjerica Hodge ( or 713 651 5698) from Norton Rose Fulbright's Energy Practice Group.