Byline: Alicia Chang
LOS ANGELES -- With the evidence coming in from one study after another, scientists are now more certain than ever that oil and gas drilling is causing hundreds upon hundreds of earthquakes across the U.S.
So far, the quakes have been mostly small and have done little damage beyond cracking plaster, toppling bricks and rattling nerves. But seismologists warn that the shaking can dramatically increase the chances of bigger, more dangerous quakes.
Up to now, the oil and gas industry has generally argued that any such link requires further study. But the rapidly mounting evidence could bring heavier regulation down on drillers and make it more difficult for them to get projects approved.
The potential for man-made quakes ''is an important and legitimate concern that must be taken very seriously by regulators and industry,'' said Jason Bordoff, founding director of the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University.
He said companies and states can reduce the risk by taking such steps as monitoring operations more closely, imposing tighter standards and recycling wastewater from drilling instead of injecting it underground.
A series of government and academic studies over the past few years -- including at least two reports released this week alone -- has added to the body of evidence implicating the U.S. drilling boom that has created a bounty of jobs and tax revenue over the past decade or so.
On Thursday, the U.S. Geological Survey released the first comprehensive maps pinpointing more than a dozen areas in the central and eastern U.S. that have been jolted by quakes...