Matt Ridley Calls Out Environmentalists For Falsely Linking Fracking To Earthquakes

Toward the end of October, scientist and author Matt Ridley called out opponents of fracking for falsely claiming that fracking was causing earthquakes in Lancshire, Great Britain. Ridley stated in an op-ed in The Times of London:

Last Saturday, BBC Radio 4 ran throughout the day with headline news about the shale-gas company Cuadrilla causing “micro-earthquakes” in Lancashire, as if the ground was trembling. It wasn’t. The tremors from fracturing gas-soaked shale rock more than a mile below the surface, picked up by ultrasensitive sensors, were far too weak to be felt at the surface. They were never going to threaten the integrity of the steel and concrete casing of the gas well itself, as some activists have since claimed.

The vibrations were tens of thousands of times less powerful than the kind of tiny earthquake that, according to the official Richter scale, “almost never cause damage”. They were smaller than the vibrations that can be routinely caused by quarrying, artillery training, mining, tunnelling, passing lorries, underground trains, geothermal wells, pile driving and building works. (Even thunder can cause seismic waves.)

There was a 3.1 magnitude natural earthquake on September 15 at 6.39pm near Newton Aycliffe in Durham. That’s several thousand times as powerful as anything caused by the recent fracking. Nobody reported feeling it, according to the British Geological Survey.


During 2011, Cuadrilla conducted research on the topic of earthquakes and if hydraulic fracturing caused them. Researchers concluded that while the possibility of a link existed, the likelihood would be extremely rare.

A 3.1 magnatude earthquake will have little to no effect on the areas they occur. Dr. Ridley correctly points out that the Russians are spreading this kind of scare about fracking and earthquakes as a means to protect their oil and natural gas exports. The Bowland shale Cuadrilla wishes to drill is abundant in natural gas which is very much needed in places like North Briton. Because of a small amount of green maniacs opposed to drilling, Ridley states, it is no reason for the country to turn its back on this much needed energy supply.

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