Give credit to Frank Smith and the Kansas Corporation Commission for trying to reduce earthquakes in the south-central part of the state.
Smith was tired of the rumbling that had intensified in the last few years near his farmhouse outside Bluff City. The turbulence coincided with an increase in hydraulic fracturing, in which companies draw oil and gas out of the ground after injecting saltwater and chemicals to break up rock far below the surface. Later, the wastewater is injected into deep underground disposal wells.
Smith filed a protest with the KCC about how the wastewater was being used.
The agency in late March limited the amount of wastewater that can be placed in underground wells in Harper and Sumner counties.
In the days after that proactive rule took effect, the number of earthquakes had fallen.
Still, nothing is settled in the longstanding dispute over the effects of lucrative fracking.
Petroleum companies may challenge the KCC’s actions.
Geologists want to see more evidence that the limits on wastewater injections are significantly affecting the number of earthquakes in Kansas.
Using more seismic monitoring stations, state officials must continue to focus on finding the cause of the earthquakes, which should help determine how to reduce them in the future.