Pennsylvania to release findings on fracking, quakes

FILE - In this June 25, 2012 file photo, a crew works on a gas drilling rig at a well site for shale based natural gas in Zelienople, Pa. The oil and gas drilling method known as hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," mobilizes thousands around the country both for and against the process, industry and some environmental. Hydraulic fracturing to drill for oil and natural gas has not caused widespread harm to drinking water in the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency said Thursday in a draft report. The report found several specific instances where poorly constructed drilling wells and improper wastewater management affected drinking water resources. But it said the number of cases was small compared to the large number of wells that use hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking. The controversial drilling technique could affect drinking water if safeguards are not maintained, the report said. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File)

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – Pennsylvania environmental regulators are set to release the findings of their investigation into a series of minor earthquakes that took place near fracking operations by an oil and gas company.

The temblors, all too weak to be felt by humans, were recorded last April in Lawrence County, about 50 miles north of Pittsburgh and three-quarters of a mile from a natural gas well owned by Houston-based Hilcorp Energy Co. No damage was reported.

The state Department of Environmental Protection has been investigating. Regulators are releasing their findings on Friday. DEP notes the quakes had a “marked … relationship” to Hilcorp’s drilling operation in terms of timing and location.

Fracking, a method to extract gas or oil from underground shale, has been tied to earthquakes in neighboring Ohio and other states, but never in Pennsylvania, the nation’s No. 2 natural gas-producing state.

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