Politics & Policy

Los Angeles City Council Blames Fracking for Earthquake

City pols demand a probe of anthropogenic tectonic shifting.

Los Angeles City Council members have discovered how to cause earthquakes. Three councilmen think fracking may be the cause of Monday’s earthquake in the Santa Monica Mountains, and they want the city, state, and feds to do an in-depth review.

Councilmen Paul Koretz, Mike Bonin, and Bernard Parks Tuesday introduced a motion calling for the city, the U.S. Geological Survey, the South Coast Air Quality Management District, and the California Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources to report on whether hydraulic fracturing caused the moderate 4.4-magnitude earthquake, the Los Angeles Times reports.

“It is crucial to the health and safety of the City’s residents to understand the seismic impacts of oil and gas extraction activities in the City,” the motion says. “All high-pressure fracking and injection creates ‘seismic events.’ . . .  Active oil extraction activities are reportedly taking place on the Veteran’s Administration grounds in West Los Angeles, nearby the epicenter of the March 17, 2014, 4.4 earthquake.”

Parks, who seconded the motion, tells National Review Online that while fracking is “reportedly” happening near the epicenter, those who signed the motion weren’t completely sure. However, he adds that “earthquakes are happening in areas that are not historically earthquake prone, but they are in places where fracking is going on.”

In February, the city council moved to ban fracking, agreeing to draw up rules to prohibit “well stimulation” until further regulations are imposed by the state and federal governments. In early March, the council followed up on the agreement and authorized a change of local land-use laws in order to ban fracking within the city limits. The proposed moratorium also extends to gravel packing, acidizing, and any other form of well stimulation.

With these actions, Los Angeles would became the first oil-producing city in California to ban fracking. Other cities such as Carson and Culver City have expressed support for a statewide ban.

Proponents of the ban claim that fracking not only causes earthquakes but also has unknown health risks and poisons wells.

However, opponents of the moratorium argue that fracking has not been proven to cause any health risks and that claims that it caused this earthquake are not realistic.

“My first impression is that sounds implausible,” seismologist Lucy Jones said. “The earthquake was so deep. Induced earthquakes are almost always shallower than this.”

— Alec Torres is a William F. Buckley Fellow at the National Review Institute.


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