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Was Canada's Latest Earthquake the Largest Fracking Quake in the World?
While it is too soon to tell if the temblor was triggered by fracking, if fracking is indeed the culprit, Canada will once again set a world record for the largest earthquake triggered by the controversial drilling process.
The earthquake was reported Tuesday at 11:27 a.m. approximately 30 kilometres west of Fox Creek, Alberta.
Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) has ordered the shutdown of the site operated by multinational energy company Repsol Oil & Gas, CBC News reported. The regulator automatically shuts down a fracking site when any seismic activity registers above a 4.0.
"The company has ceased operations ... and they will not be allowed to resume operations until we have approved their plans," AER spokeswoman Carrie Rosa said.
A statement from Repsol confirmed that Tuesday's earthquake occurred during fracking operations.
"Repsol immediately shut down operations and reported the event to the AER and other local authorities," the statement said.
"The company is investigating the event, which includes reviewing and analyzing available geological and geophysical data, as well as the onsite seismic monitoring data. Operations will not resume at this location until a full assessment of the event has been completed and approval has been received from the AER."
Jeffrey Gu, associate professor of geophysics at the University of Alberta, explained to CBC News that the area surrounding Fox Creek has seen hundreds of quakes ranging between 2.0 to 3.0 in the last six months. There were two two fairly large quakes in the area, including a 4.4 in January 2015, Gu said. He added that it was "highly probable" the earthquakes were caused by fracking.
Alberta's provincial energy regulator also said at the time that the quake was likely caused by hydraulic fracturing.
Gu also told CBC News that if fracking induced Tuesday's 4.8 quake, it would be the largest such quake in Canada's history. Actually, such a quake would be the largest such quake in the world.
No injuries or property damages were reported from the temblor, although some residents in the area felt shaken.
"I thought it was just a forklift backing into the wall," St. Albert resident Ken Munroe said in the video below.
Canada has the dubious honor of holding the world record for the largest fracking-induced earthquake. Last month,
British Columbia's energy regulator confirmed that a 4.6-magnitude earthquake that struck the province in August was caused by fracking.
According to Food & Water Watch, earthquakes caused by fracking itself are usually smaller and less frequently felt than earthquakes produced from underground injection control wells. The alarming spate of tremors in Oklahoma, for instance, are very likely caused by the disposal of large quantities of fracking wastewater into underground wells.
Alberta government officials are currently investigating Tuesday's quake.
"The AER has been engaged in a review of fracking, in particular as it relates to this issue, and I'll be asking them to speed that review ... to come up with some recommendations that we can consider sooner than later," Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said.
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As a growing number of states move to pass laws that would criminalize pipeline protests and hit demonstrators with years in prison, an audio recording obtained by The Intercept showed a representative of a powerful oil and gas lobbying group bragging about the industry's success in crafting anti-protest legislation behind closed doors.
Speaking during a conference in Washington, DC in June, Derrick Morgan, senior vice president for federal and regulatory affairs at the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), touted "model legislation" that states across the nation have passed in recent months.
AFPM represents a number of major fossil fuel giants, including Chevron, Koch Industries and ExxonMobil.
"We've seen a lot of success at the state level, particularly starting with Oklahoma in 2017," said Morgan, citing Dakota Access Pipeline protests as the motivation behind the aggressive lobbying effort. "We're up to nine states that have passed laws that are substantially close to the model policy that you have in your packet."
Big Oil is now using its political power to try and criminalize protests of oil & gas infrastructure.— Friends of the Earth (@foe_us) August 19, 2019
"This legislation has potential to punish public participation and mischaracterize advocacy protected by the First Amendment."https://t.co/bmiHjONEhy
The audio recording comes just months after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law legislation that would punish anti-pipeline demonstrators with up to 10 years in prison, a move environmentalists condemned as a flagrant attack on free expression.
"Big Oil is hijacking our legislative system," Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network said after the Texas Senate passed the bill in May.
As The Intercept's Lee Fang reported Monday, the model legislation Morgan cited in his remarks "has been introduced in various forms in 22 states and passed in ... Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Missouri, Indiana, Iowa, South Dakota, and North Dakota."
"The AFPM lobbyist also boasted that the template legislation has enjoyed bipartisan support," according to Fang. "In Louisiana, Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards signed the version of the bill there, which is being challenged by the Center for Constitutional Rights. Even in Illinois, Morgan noted, 'We almost got that across the finish line in a very Democratic-dominated legislature.' The bill did not pass as it got pushed aside over time constraints at the end of the legislative session."
Many of the state bills restricting the right to protest have been "drafted by companies and passed through groups like ALEC, the secretive group of corporate lobbyists trying to rewrite state laws to benefit corporations over people." @greenpeaceusa https://t.co/ZxpTjWdrwT— Stand Up To ALEC (@StandUpToALEC) May 6, 2019
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.