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October 1, 2014
Induced Seismicity Task Force Submits Seismic Action Plan To Governor Sam Brownback
Topeka, KS - A three-member task force established by Governor Brownback in February has submitted its action plan to the Governor.
"I created this task force to address public safety based on seismic activity we were seeing in south-central Kansas," said Governor Brownback. "I appreciate their hard work and look forward to reviewing the plan and its recommendations."
Governor Brownback established the State Task Force on Induced Seismicity with representation from the Kansas Geological Survey, the Kansas Corporation Commission, and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. The Task Force met five times and held a public meeting in Wichita. Experts were consulted from the U.S. Geological Survey, the Oklahoma Geological Survey, and private industry. The Task Force developed a draft plan that was presented and discussed at a public meeting in Wichita, revised, and resubmitted a second time for public comment. The final result is the plan being presented to Governor Brownback today.
"We appreciate Governor Brownback's foresight in establishing a task force to look at induced seismicity," said Rex Buchanan, Interim Director, Kansas Geological Survey. "The Action Plan takes into account both public safety and activities of the state's oil and gas industry."
Oil and gas is a cornerstone industry in Kansas generating nearly $4.3 billion each year, and employing 118,000 Kansans each day. The task force was directed to ensure the safety of all Kansans, and to consider the impacts to industry and the environment.
The Kansas Seismic Action Plan addresses the issue of induced seismicity, that is, earthquakes resulting from human activity. The plan provides background information citing national studies linking seismic activity to fluid injection; however, the task force had no conclusive evidence linking fluid injection to specific seismic events in Kansas.
The Seismic Action Plan consists of two major components - a plan for enhanced seismic monitoring and a response plan. Enhanced seismic monitoring includes installation of a strategically located permanent monitoring network that will allow all earthquakes in Kansas of a magnitude greater than 1.5 to be detected and located. Kansas currently has no state-supported seismic network. In addition, the plan recommends a portable seismic array that will allow the Kansas Geological Survey to deploy monitoring stations in areas with significant seismic activity to better understand the cause of localized earthquakes. The enhanced seismic monitoring component of the plan will collect important data resulting in a better understanding of the seismic activity over time.
The second component is a seismic response plan. A key component of the plan is a Seismic Action Score (SAS), a formula for evaluating seismic events that will guide an appropriate response by the Kansas Geological Survey, Kansas Corporation Commission, and Kansas Department of Health and Environment. The SAS formula provides a mechanism designed to trigger an agency response. The formula is subject to change as more data becomes available and scientifically credible information about induced seismicity is published.
Thus far in 2014, the U.S. Geological Survey's National Earthquake Information Center has recorded 58 earthquakes, ranging from magnitude 1.3 to 3.8, nearly all in Sumner, Harper, and Barber counties. This is an increase over 2013 and prior years.
It is important to note that hydraulic fracturing (or "fracking") should not be confused with the injection of salt water. In their 2012 report, the United States Geological Survey in stated there is "no evidence to suggest hydraulic fracturing itself is the cause of the increased rate of earthquakes in the midcontinent."