The fracking genie has been out of the bottle for a long time. But the deep-drilling technique still remains a mystery to many who worry about the potential for tainted water and other hazardous consequences.
Now comes a series of seismic activities smallish earthquakes, that is that seem to be on the increase in oil-development areas of southern Kansas.
In response, Gov. Sam Brownback has set up a task force to study the connection between oil and gas exploration and earthquakes. Thats good.
Scientists who are on the case argue that fracking, under which water and chemicals are injected under high pressure into deep rock formations to release oil and gas, does not cause the quakes per se. More likely, they say, the follow-up re-injection of waste liquids mostly salt water might be to blame. Saltwater is a byproduct of most oil-drilling situations, geologists report, not just fracking. And seismic activity is believed to be less serious in Kansas than elsewhere.
Brownbacks three-member panel is expected to recommend an action plan by the time of an April meeting in Wichita. Knowledge is power, so its gratifying to see that theres an interest in fact-finding. If investigators do indeed confirm a strong link between salt-water disposal and earthquakes, a variety of solutions could follow.