Texas Business Report: Fracking Dealt Major Blow

A University of Texas study found that natural gas drilling may have led to seventy earthquakes in the Barnett Shale region.
Sat August 11, 2012 1:16 am

The Texas economy is one of the most robust in the world. Wildly profitable companies and ingenious entrepreneurs call this state home, and what happens here influences businesses around the nation. Here’s a slice of the profits, losses, big deals, and backroom decisions happening across Texas this week.

Quake Up Call
Natural gas drilling may have contributed to nearly seventy minor earthquakes in the Barnett Shale region in northwestern Texas from 2009 to 2011, according to a University of Texas study released Monday. That number is eight times as many as the National Earthquake Information Center had officially reported, but many of the quakes had magnitudes of less than 3.0 and went unnoticed by residents in the area, the New York Times reports.

All of the earthquakes occurred within two miles of high-volume wastewater disposal sites where more than 150,000 barrels of fluids were injected each month as part of the hydraulic fracturing (fracking) process. However, the Times notes, “not all injection wells with such high volumes of output had quake epicenters recorded nearby.” 

The Bottom Line: The study stopped short of pinpointing why the earthquakes “occur some places and not others,” and researchers say there is a need to investigate whether there is “a threshold for the rate of injection that we can set which would reduce the frequency of earthquakes.”

Fine the Friendly Skies
The financial tailspin at American Airlines continues. This week the Federal Aviation Administration announced it will seek $162.4 million in fines from the beleaguered carrier—the largest penalty ever levied against an airline—for “alleged violations of U.S. safety standards going

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