Earthquakes in Ohio? Never – before fracking. Then, in March 2014, a swarm of 77 earth tremors were recorded in Ohio between March 4-12, 2014. When a magnitude 3 quake shook up a lot of people in nearby towns, state officials shut the well down – and the quakes stopped.

Still, there was doubt and denial on the part of industry officials about whether there really was a direct cause-and-effect relationship between injecting water, sand, and chemicals – under high pressure – into the earth and the swarm of quakes that shook up nearby residents’ sense of well-being. Now a new study published in the January 5, 2015 issue of the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America removes all room for equivocation.

The author of the study, Robert Skoumal, a grad student in seismology at Miami University in Ohio is developing a technique called ‘earthquake fingerprinting’ that will make it possible for the government and industry representatives to quickly distinguish between natural and drilling-caused earthquakes. He explained in the study that Hilcorp Energy Company in Poland Township “happened to be unlucky because they were hydraulic fracturing near an unknown fault.”

Most mid-Western frack-quakes are not big enough to startle people. What the larger environmental impact and economic consequences of fracking will be is still open to debate with passionate arguments being proffered by both sides. A high-pressure showdown is set for this Friday between President Obama and the new Republican Congress over whether to ‘green-light’ the Canada-to-Texas Keystone XL Pipeline. The President’s wants to wait until the State Department finishes its review before making a final determination on the project. Republicans may not be willing to wait. Much hangs in the balance.

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