Last weekend, three minor earthquakes struck the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Two happened Saturday; the third came Sunday. The largest was a 3.4-magnitude quake on Saturday. Unlike major earthquakes that cause widespread damage, the Texas quakes weren’t national news.
Nevertheless, those quakes have become fodder for opponents of the drilling procedure known as hydraulic fracking because a noted scientist has said they were likely caused by the drilling. Various media reports this week have published the thoughts of Cliff Frohlich, associate director and senior research scientist at the University of Texas at Austin’s Institute for Geophysics.
Frohlich believes it’s no coincidence that the Dallas/Fort Worth area — which isn’t normally prone to repeated earthquakes — has experienced several earthquakes since fracking began near the DFW airport in 2007.
More distressing to protectors of the Talladega National Forest should be this week’s report by the U.S. Geological Survey, which confirms that fracking can contaminate groundwater supplies. The USGS report also reaffirms similar geological tests by the Environmental Protection Agency. Both the USGS and EPA findings were based on testing of fracking sites in Wyoming, which, according to the Institute for Southern Studies, found contaminants that include methane, ethane, diesel compounds and phenol, a known neurotoxin.
None of that — an uptick in earthquakes or groundwater contamination — needs to happen in the Talladega forest.
Updates on the prospect of drilling in our forest are slow-arrivers. This week, Calhoun County Commissioner Tim Hodges described for The Star his frustrations with trying to glean information from his federal sources. A public hearing on drilling in the Talladega National Forest remains delayed; no date is set. The outcry that happened earlier this year about drilling in the forest may have died down during this information blackout, though concern by drilling opponents, including The Star’s editorial board, has not.
Recent national developments have only strengthened that apprehension. Multiple scientists are saying the same thing: Hydraulic fracking is bad for groundwater and bad for the earth. Allowing it to come to the Talladega National Forest would be a massive mistake.