On Monday, millions of Angelinos had a rude awakening. At 6:25AM, a magnitude 4.4 earthquake occurred in the Santa Monica Mountains, at a relatively shallow depth of 5 miles.
“The location is somewhat surprising. It’s within the Santa Monica Mountains. We have not seen seismicity in it in recent times,” said Caltech seismologist Egill Hauksson. “It has been dormant for quite some time.”
In California, earthquakes can occur at anytime, even in areas where we don’t expect them.
It was a definitely a jolt for me. My dog started howling, while my roommate grabbed her dog and prepared for the worst. She lived in Los Angeles when the 1994 Northridge earthquake hit in a previously unknown fault north of the city.
There are an unknown number of faults in California. The ones we do know about are active, and have the possibility of causing a major earthquake at anytime. All Californians live with the constant thought that the “big one” could occur at any time.
So why are we about to increase our earthquake risk – if Governor Brown has his way — by fracking, acidizing, and then injecting trillions of gallons of wastewater underground?
On Shaky Ground, a recent report by Earthworks, Clean Water Action, and the Center for Biological Diversity, exposes the risks of increased fracking in the Monterey Shale. It calculates that developing the Monterey Shale will produce nearly 9 trillion gallons of wastewater – the vast majority of which will be injected into disposal wells. As noted in the report, this type of wastewater injection increases the risk of a seismic event.
California is earthquake country. We have more people and more infrastructure at risk from earthquakes that any other state. Scientists have known for decades that underground wastewater injection can reduce a fault’s natural friction, and increase the risks of earthquakes. Additionally, the report found:
- The oil industry dumps billions of gallons of contaminated wastewater into hundreds of disposal wells near faults around Los Angeles, Bakersfield, and other major cities.
- 54 percent of California’s active wastewater wells are within 10 miles of a recently active fault.
- Other regions with fracking wastewater disposal have experienced a 10-fold increase in quake activity.
Unfortunately, state regulators are doing nothing to protect us from this seismic risk – or even meaningfully investigate it.
In response to the growing threat from fracking to California’s air, water, public health, infrastructure, and economy, thousands of citizens turned out in Sacramento on March 15, 2014. The People demanded that
- Legislators support a fracking moratorium called for in SB1132, and
- Governor Brown use his executive authority to halt this dangerous practice.
From San Diego to the Oregon border, nearly 4,000 people made their voices heard in Sacramento, and delivered a clear message to the Governor: “Climate leaders don’t frack!”
So how do we protect our state, our citizens, and our environment? The answer is to immediately halt fracking, acidizing, and other extreme oil production methods, and migrate to a more sustainable and green energy production model.