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March 29, 2014

Earthquake in the O.C.

Though the home office for is in Florissant, Missouri (north of St. Louis), the business end of this site is in Brea, California (north on Anaheim, east of Los Angeles) home of one of the first two Carl's Jr. restaurants which are called Hardie's here in St. Louis.

Last night, the Southern California ground shook, like it does almost everyday if you check the USGS Earthquake Map regularly. However, around 9:09 PM PDT (11:09 PM CDT), the ground shook 2 miles west of Brea and produced this M5.1.

For some reason, the media outside of California doesn't speak of earthquakes like they did back in the 1990s.

This cartoon would have never existed if not for the 1994 Northridge Earthquake!

This has me concerned. For me, this is important information as a strong quake could knock out this site. Just a few years ago, the old website I used to run was threated by wildfire.

While it's no surprise that California is a disaster magnet with the fires, earthquakes, landslides, and drought, but manufacturing these disasters through hydraulic fracturing (a.k.a. fracking) for natural gas and then reporting them with low attention is a page out of a Rachel Carson book.

While the 4.4 quake that occurred near L.A. on March 17th may be your standard California earthquake, the fact that fracking is happening on California is quite possibly the most ignorant thing any energy producer could do.

The Far Side by Gary Larson
Fracking in California ANYWHERE in a nutshell

However, if history has taught us anything, it is that Big Oil energy producers have a have a consistent history of making big messes and a piss-poor job of cleaning them up.

In fact this week marks the 25th anniversary of the Exxon-Valdez Oil Spill where much of the Alaskan coastline is still covered in oily muck. This week, 15 barrels of oil spilled into Lake Michigan from a tanker near Gary, Indiana, one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world and source of drinking water for many communities from the Great Lakes through the St. Lawrence River in Canada. A collision of a boat and an oil tanker also occurred this week in the Houston Ship Channel in Houston's Buffalo Bayou near Houston, Texas spilling 5400 barrels of oil.

Fracking is the new technique of making a big mess. Rather than spilling oil, injecting a mix of waste chemicals to use pressure to extract natural gas cracks the rock that separate the pockets of natural gas from the water table beneath the earth where some people get their drinking water. Above ground, the "popping" produced by fracking produces earthquakes. Before fracking, earthquakes in Oklahoma where small like any other Midwestern earthquakes and as frequent as any other quakes that occurred along the New Madrid Seismic Zone (NMSZ). The NMSZ produces quakes around 1.0 most of the time. Sometimes a 2.5 would occur. In fact, the last large quake to hit the Midwest was back in 1812. Now, there's a 4.0 quake shaking he Oklahoma City are once every 2 to 3 months, with a 5.7 destroying 14 homes in Oklahoma back in 2011. The Mount Carmel (Illinois) quake that happened in 2008 was a 5.4 and it shook the St. Louis Area from a couple hundred miles away.

In Southern California, it's not uncommon to see oil fields in Los Angeles and Orange Counties as the geology makes for easy access to the pocket of oil below. It's been known to bubble out of the ground and is responsible for L.A.'s famous La Brea Tar Pits. However, fracking in one of America's largest metropolitan areas that is also earthquake country for methane is haphazardous and ignorant, but not reporting the dangers is as terrible as not reporting that there was a quake at all.


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