The Risk

Fracking, Acidizing, and California’s Increased Earthquake Danger

MAP_ES_RISK_2.19

Oil companies are putting our state on shaky ground.

California has always been earthquake country. We have more people and more infrastructure at risk from quakes than any other state.

But our new analysis reveals fresh cause for concern. We found:

  • The oil industry dumps billions of gallons of contaminated wastewater into hundreds of disposal wells near faults around Los Angeles, Bakersfield, and other major cities.
  • 54 percent of California’s active wastewater wells are within 10 miles of a recently active fault.
  • Scientists know that wastewater injection can trigger dangerous earthquakes. Other regions with fracking wastewater disposal have experienced a 10-fold increase in quake activity.

Underground wastewater injection can increase pressure on faults, reducing the fault’s natural friction and triggering an earthquake.

And state regulators are doing practically nothing to protect Californians from the seismic risks of wastewater injection.

California is on the verge of rapidly expanding unconventional oil production into the Monterey Shale, a vast oil deposit in Central and Southern California.

Thanks to fracking, acidizing, and other dangerous techniques to produce this oil, we could see trillions of gallons of additional wastewater — and a growing danger of earthquakes.

To protect California, we must curb oil industry wastewater production by halting fracking, acidizing, and other extreme oil production methods.

But we have to act fast to reduce the risk to millions of Californians.