Recent earthquakes in Ohio have caused many to blame underground injection of wastewater from natural gas drilling. This week Ohio officials agreed with these findings, and enacted new restrictions on the practice.
Ohio's new restrictions would prohibit new wells like the Northstar Number 1. That's the well near Youngstown that officials shut down shortly before a 4.0 earthquake on New Year's Eve. That tremor followed a series of other small earthquakes.
Seismologists have long suspected that deep well injection of wastewater can make a fault slip, triggering an earthquake. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources concurred. New wells will have to undergo extensive underground testing. And some layers of rock will be off-limits.
Much of the wastewater going into the Youngstown well, and more 100 others in Ohio, came from hydraulic fracturing for gas in Pennsylvania's Marcellus shale. The keystone state has only six such wells, Many consider underground injection the safest way to dispose of fracking wastewater.