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Ohio issued tighter rules for drilling near quake fault lines
Action follows five quakes southeast of Youngstown and marks the first time the state has linked earthquakes and drilling

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M.L. Schultze
Ohio has 800 new wells burrowing into the Utica and Marcellus shale.
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The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has issued stricter rules for horizontal drilling near known fault lines and other places where earthquakes have occurred. It’s the first time the state has formally linked fracking to earthquakes.

The new permits were developed in response to a series of quakes – the largest measuring a 3.0 magnitude -- last month southeast of Youngstown. The state will require companies to install monitors when they’re fracking within 3 miles of known faults or of seismic activity greater than 2.0 recorded since 1999.

If the monitors pick up activity of at least 1.0 magnitude, the drilling would temporarily cease while that’s investigated. ODNR spokesman Mark Bruce says the state is being rightfully cautious.

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“To our knowledge, we’re the only state in the country taking a step like this. But we really feel it’s a prudent one. It will give us much more data as it relates seismicity. And it uses all the known information we have, …  it takes that known information, evaluates risk and then it takes steps to minimize that risk.”

If the additional monitoring establishes a probable link, Bruce says drilling at the site will be suspended.

The state also plans to review permits it has granted under the old rules where drilling has not yet started.

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