Jeremy Buckingham MLC via Flickr CC-BY-2.0

FOR YEARS NOW the oil and gas industry has argued that “seismic activity caused by hydraulic fracturing is not a hazard or a nuisance.”

The powerful industry, which bills the brute-force technology as “safe and proven,” repeatedly downplayed the earthquake risks the same way it belittled the threat of climate change.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Association confidently declared, for example, that pumping large volumes of pressurized fluids to crack rock will indeed create small magnitude quakes but this activity “cannot be detected at the surface.”

The American Petroleum Institute was even bolder. It boasted that hydraulic fracturing “does not cause earthquakes” or create vibration “of noticeable size.”

But Canadian and American fracking operations have since proved the lobbyists very wrong. The industry has also rewritten the continent’s seismic record in shale gas fracking zones.

Read more Energy Matrix columns.


Andrew Nikiforuk, a Calgary-based journalist, is the author of the national bestseller Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent. His latest book, The Energy of Slaves, looks at how human slavery has shaped our attitudes and values about energy. For more on Andrew visit his website at


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