January 24, 2016

Alberta tremor revives talk of NDP fracking review. Here’s why legislation isn’t needed

Holly NicholasRebel Commentator

Whether you believe that hydraulic fracturing causes earthquakes, or not – there’s no valid argument for banning the process.

Did you know that Rachel Notley made it part of her election platform to review hydraulic fracking because there is “no legislation” for it?

And now a recent earthquake 14km away from Fox Creek has caused the NDP to renew their election promise of reviewing the process.

But the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) has Directive 083 in place which outlines the requirements for managing subsurface integrity.

One of the Premier’s main concerns is water integrity, but the AER also incorporates the Water Act which focuses on protecting Alberta’s water.

The United States Geological Survey, the government run body of professionals in the United States that both record and research induced seismic activity, have shown the actual fracking process is not causing the majority of induced seismic events. They have made connections to waste water disposal wells, but the associated events are both rare and minor with average magnitudes of under 3.

Studies show that the majority of induced earthquakes are not due to fracking. Even if you believe that waste water injection causes earthquakes, the events are minor and no cause for alarm.

Plus, the benefits of extracting hydrocarbons with fracking outweigh the risks.

The AER already regulates hydraulic fracking. Why is the NDP government calling for a review of the procedures when there is already extensive information out there?

In my opinion this will lead to more of the same – wasting tax payer dollars, increased uncertainty and more investments leaving the province.



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commented 2016-01-26 18:13:00 -0500
And one more section from the Ethical Guidelines of APEGA that Ms. Nicholas should review, prior to posting non-factual information on seismic events induced by hydraulic fracturing and unsubstantiated opinions on the benefits of fracking.

4.2.3 Expressing Opinions
Professionals should express opinions on engineering, geological or geophysical matters only on the basis of adequate knowledge, experience and honest conviction.
 Professional members should ensure, to the best of their ability, that statements on engineering, geological or geophysical matters attributed to them properly reflect their professional opinion. (See also Rule 3.)
commented 2016-01-26 17:53:54 -0500
Legal Obligations
As an APEGA Member or Permit Holder, you are allowed to independently practise engineering or geoscience as well as to use reserved titles and designations.
This privilege includes adhering to the Engineering and Geoscience Professions Act and the Code of Ethics.
The basics of the Code of Ethics are:
hold paramount health, safety, and welfare of the public and the environment
take on work that you are competent to perform within your scope of practice
ethically conduct yourself with integrity, honesty, fairness, and objectivity
comply with applicable statues, regulations, and bylaws
uphold the honor, dignity, and reputation of the professions
There may be several pieces of legislation, codes, and regulations that apply to your work. It is your obligation to remain up to date on this information.

It is also important that you know about your right to practise and reserved titles and designations.
commented 2016-01-26 17:43:36 -0500
Holly Nicholas, APEGA member-in-training. Unbelievable.
commented 2016-01-26 14:47:28 -0500
Oh my word, Holly! You are a geologist and you wrote this? Are you registered with APEGA, because if you are, this article is worth submitting a complaint based on the Code of Ethics and Conduct of members.
Directive 83 has nothing to do with seismic events, Subsurface Order #2 does.
The AER has no procedures, directives, regulations or otherwise dealing with water protection, monitoring or testing with respect to hydraulic fracturing operations since taking over the Water Act in 2013.
Seismic events caused by fracking are proven. They are not rare or minor. Fox Creek alone has experienced almost 380 quakes in the past year. Previous to the play based pilot in the area, this once stable region only experienced on average, one seismic event per year.
For those of you claiming that natural quakes are 5-10km below the surface and fracking is only happening at 1-2.5km, I will direct you to the AER Spotlight on Seismicity, go the the excel spreadsheet and look at the depth of these seismic events. All around 1-3km. Recent quakes in BC and Fox Creek have reached 4.6 and 4.8, the latter is the strongest natural or induced quake in Canada in the past decade, as spoken by Dr. Gu of the U of A. Both the USGS, AGS, AER and UofA have confirmed fracking, not just disposal wells, causes seismicity.
commented 2016-01-25 14:28:10 -0500
The NDP need to be slapped silly for being so bloody stupid. A child would be a better leader than this bunch of useless cry babies.
commented 2016-01-25 13:40:08 -0500
Check out the craton plates or craton shield, it starts in northern Alberta and runs down to Texas goes east and again north to the Appalachian range. Now a mere weak after the tremors in Fox Creek there were small tremors reported in southern Oklahoma and into the Appalachian range.
Typically leftards are into science, but only when it suits there evil agendas.
Btw quakes along the craton shield are extremely rare but are usually very low in the rector scale
commented 2016-01-25 12:37:46 -0500
“As scientists, we have to remain open minded, as these things are never settled and we come to a consensus most times.”
“Out of the mouths of babes…” (Psalms and Matthew)
commented 2016-01-25 10:04:51 -0500
Thanks for the link Holly. It still doesn’t say whether the fault is permeable, but I assume it is to be able to relieve friction on the fault plane by lubrication from the injected waste waters. As a professional geologist I could not turn my back on the remote possibility of ground water contamination where these conditions exist. I expect that the professional geologists and engineers involved in the injection of waste water are also concerned with this possibility and take action to prevent ground water contamination, as remote as that possibility may be. Also, George Dyer, I believe that concept of lubricating faults on a periodic basis is one of several theories proposed in the past to relieve stress on major faults, such as the San Andreas which has destroyed San Francisco a couple times in history. The problem with relieving stress on the fault plane is just how much stress is already existing and will the lubrication suddenly allow all that energy to release at once causing a very major earthquake. Perhaps, the best plan is to create buildings which are earthquake proof and to have emergency plans for earthquakes, which I believe has already existed for decades now. I remember seeing a video on the San Andreas fault and earthquakes in one of my geology classes way back in the early 1970’s. It was an even older video showing, Los Angeles I believe, where several public schools and emergency buildings (fire, police, hospitals) were build on top of the fault itself! I assume in 50 or more years these hazardous situations have been dealt with by the City of LA. However, this is way off the NDP topic of wasting everyone’s time and money.
commented 2016-01-25 09:47:47 -0500
Robert Hewgil said, “The deepest drilling goes to around 10,000 feet. Earthquakes happen thirty, fifty and seventy miles below the surface. One has nothing to do with the other.”

Now Robert, you know that is a fact and is therefore inadmissible in the leftie enviroweenie emotional argument.
commented 2016-01-25 09:35:14 -0500
The left also often refers to “seismic activity” rather than earthquakes. I suspect that is because fracking itself is a seismic activity, making it easy to find “seismic activity” anywhere fracking is done. In the Fox Creek area before the slowdown Shell might have had 3 completions packages (they will be doing the fracks) going at once, not to mention CNRL, Tourmaline, Celtic, etc. so there would be constant activity. An individual well might have 7 zones each requiring multiple fracks. Then of course there are seismic crews in the area putting charges into the ground and measuring the feedback. The left publishes that seismic activity is occurring and most people will assume that the activity refers to earthquakes or precursors to earthquakes.
commented 2016-01-25 08:43:37 -0500
Now the NDP are starting to oppose fracking as well? Why am I not surprised. The NDP will not be happy until their ideology has made Alberta a welfare province.
commented 2016-01-25 07:50:46 -0500
The loons in the N.D.P. have all most closed Grande Cache Hanna and Fox Creek will be next .
commented 2016-01-25 05:33:33 -0500
Why is it that I go read a bunch of Liberal hoopla through news media and end up with a seismic, earth shattering, migraine headache. Yet, I come in here, listen to a well researched, practical teaching on fracking and taxpayer waste from common sense Conservatives and all of a sudden my headache is cured. “Oh Auntie Em, there’s no place like home!”
commented 2016-01-25 01:10:36 -0500
I guess Fox Creek is the only place on earth where fracking occurs then. STUPID NDP IDIOTS.
commented 2016-01-25 00:12:48 -0500
Hi everyone and thanks for your comments!

Allan, here is the USGS explanation:

Also, just to be clear, I’m representing what studies have found in the video. My main point is that whether a person believes fracking causes earthquakes, or not – they are minor and rare events. As scientists, we have to remain open minded, as these things are never settled and we come to a consensus most times.

The purposeful induction of seismic events certainly is an interesting concept that I will have to dig a little deeper into. My concern would be that the results would be unpredictable.

Allan made a good point – seismic is usually done in these areas and the locations of faults are typically well known.
commented 2016-01-24 22:37:23 -0500
frack spike lees’ ass and see how much gas you get.
commented 2016-01-24 22:08:18 -0500
Notley will do anything she can to stop this industry. Why, because she is a socialist and just Fracking crazy.
commented 2016-01-24 19:47:17 -0500
The deepest drilling goes to around 10,000 feet. Earthquakes happen thirty, fifty and seventy miles below the surface. One has nothing to do with the other.
commented 2016-01-24 19:36:23 -0500
It’s somewhat of a good argument that small sporadic earthquakes could relieve a bigger problem, but I recall when my brother in law was full of water from a shut down kidney. He had blown up like a balloon and the doctor told me they can’t just prick him to drain him, as he would blow up like a balloon and die. It had to be a very slow process , that eventually saved him. Then again the earth is not like a balloon and has many natural pressure release valves and is more fluid in nature.
commented 2016-01-24 19:32:52 -0500
I agree with you Holly that more regulation on top of regulation is really not required. However, as a geologist, mining not oil, I hope that oil companies fracking will carefully check out where they are injecting their waste water. I would imagine that areas being fracked have been subjected to extensive seismic surveying and hence faults could be picked out on the charts. As faults can be permeable (allow fluids to pass) it could be remotely possible that waste water could get closer to the surface and contaminate ground water. I would assume that the oil companies geologists and engineers are already doing this, but I have some doubts when you state that some earthquakes have happened because of waste fluid creating “pressure” (lubrication?) nearby faults. Could you clear this matter up?
commented 2016-01-24 19:17:06 -0500
Better several small quakes than one big one
commented 2016-01-24 18:55:01 -0500
Since the 1906 “big one” in San Francisco mankind has dreamed of one day having the seemingly impossible ability to control earthquakes. Now, as is often the case, the solution might be staring us in the face.
Consider, if hydraulic fracturing can indeed induce an earthquake, then it would make sense, to me at least, to deliberately create a series of small, less damaging earthquakes in a region where it is known that a large and potentially catastrophic fault already exists, the stress of which is building up to one day inevitably being “relieved” in the form of one very large and catastrophic ‘quake.
Thanks to fracking, many lives may already have been saved.
Before you ask, no, I’m not smoking anything, though now retired, my background is in mechanical engineering (which includes such things as properties of materials, normalizing, stress relieving, and etc.). I’m just running this up the flagpole; so to speak. Keep in mind that many of mankind’s greatest discoveries and solutions to problems have been stumbled upon by accident.
commented 2016-01-24 18:25:02 -0500
My father worked in seismic exploration for decades, and many years before fracking. His last job was at the U of C in the geology department. They measured seismic activity in Alberta on a daily basis. Is Notley going to create “evidence” like the GW/CC fraternity to take down another industry in Alberta as her path of destruction continues? What a tool.
commented 2016-01-24 18:08:52 -0500
I’m inclined to think tornadoes a bigger threat to Albertans than a few small earthquakes.
commented 2016-01-24 17:52:00 -0500
If the know nothing NDP try to “regulate” fracking and make it unprofitable, oil company’s will simply move on. And all the massive spending they want will have no source of revenue. And once more SK will benefit from our provinces mismanagement.
commented 2016-01-24 17:33:43 -0500
Hi Holly, that was another great video. I learned more from this one video, than I did from my entire first year geology elective course.
commented 2016-01-24 16:53:11 -0500
Fact: Western Canada experiences earthquakes all the time. The causation is the effect of the pacific tectonic plate slowly sliding under the north american plate. Most of the activity is under B.C., however consider that Alberta, geologically speaking is really not that far away. The Rocky Mountains are a result of the upwards thrusting motion of the collison of tectonic plates. Nothing to see here folks!
commented 2016-01-24 16:17:49 -0500
Motley take a look out of your window to the west What do you see? The Rockies .. How did they get there .A process that involves seismic events. Has that process stopped? No.