A pair of headlines from Southeastern Minnesota illustrate concerns about fracking. In the Rochester Post Bulletin's Official: 'Fracking' the likely cause of Ohio earthquakes, readers learn this:
An official in Ohio said on Sunday that the underground disposal of wastewater from natural-gas drilling operations would remain halted in the Youngstown area until scientists could analyze data from the most recent of a string of earthquakes there.
The latest quake, the 11th since mid-March, occurred Saturday afternoon with a magnitude of 4.0 and was the strongest yet. Like the others, it was centered near a well that has been used for the disposal of millions of gallons of brine and other waste liquids produced at natural gas wells, mostly in Pennsylvania.
The waste, from the process called hydraulic fracturing that is used to unlock the gas from shale rock, had been injected under pressure into the well, which is 9,200 feet deep. Scientists had suspected that some of the wastewater might have migrated into deeper rock formations, allowing an ancient fault to slip. Similar links between disposal wells and earthquakes have been suspected in Texas and Arkansas.
Over in Winona County, citizens and county staff are asking for a moratorium to study mining the silica sand that is later used in the fracking process. Since Minnesota doesn't have oil or natural gas deposits, mining won't cause earthquakes locally; instead, people are concerned about health and safety issues, along with the wear and tear on roads from hauling sand.
In Plenty to talk about: Public meetings today on blasting and frac sand, the Winona Daily News reports:
The Winona County Board of Commissioners will hold a public hearing tonight on a proposed frac sand mining moratorium. The hearing is set for 6 p.m. at the Winona Middle School auditorium at 1570 Homer Road.
The County Planning Commission last month voted against recommending a moratorium, which some county officials have called for in order to give the county time to study the potential effects of sand mining on air and water quality, road use and damage, public safety and environmental issues.
It isn’t clear whether the board plans to make a final decision on the moratorium at the meeting.
Eight permits for new sand mines have been proposed, all in Saratoga Township in the county’s southwest corner. The board needs to vote on three of them prior to Jan. 19, or they will be automatically approved
Image: The Uniminn silica sand pit near Kasota.