From Common Dreams: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/08/25-3
A 5.9 earthquake — the strongest in over 100 years to strike the East Coast — forced the evacuation of personnel from the White House and U.S. Treasury. Some protesters outside the White House joked that Mother Nature was just trying to jolt President Obama awake to take action on climate change and stop relying on dirty energy. Too bad Obama was vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard and couldn’t have heard the joke first-hand.
The protestors’ comments said in jest may not be too far from the truth. In his State of the Union speech this year, President Obama declared support for a so-called “clean energy standard” which he said would include natural gas, nuclear power, and so-called “clean coal.” And the energy options being pursued under the “clean energy standard” endorsed by President Obama may have synergistic and potentially catastrophic consequences that we narrowly escaped in this quake.
Sound farfetched? Read on. The quake’s epicenter was in Mineral, Virginia, approximately 10 miles from two nuclear power reactors at the North Anna site. According to a statement by a representative of Dominion Power, operators of the plants, the two reactors were designed to withstand a 5.9 to 6.1 quake. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission ranked the North Anna Reactors as being seventh in the nation in terms of earthquake risks. At the time of this writing, both reactors were operating on diesel generators and their operators claim there is no quake damage.
But just how close did we come to catastrophe? And what could cause the quakes to rumble through a part of the United States that rarely sees such powerful quakes? Was it a mere freak of nature? Or is something else going on?
We may never know for sure, but there is a growing consensus that a natural gas drilling technique called hydraulic fracturing is linked to earthquakes. For example, Arkansas has experienced a swarm of earthquakes in the aftermath of hydraulic fracturing (also called “fracking”) for natural gas. Other regions of the country where fracking is taking place, Texas, West Virginia, and New York, have also witnessed a series of quakes in the vicinity of these drilling sites. In the process of fracking, water and toxic fluid is injected deep underground at high pressure deep into rocks in order to actually create micro-earthquakes. These mini-quakes, in turn, release the gas trapped deep in the rock, allowing it to bubble to the surface.
Continue reading at: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/08/25-3