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Fracking linked to Ohio earthquakes, officials say

State geologists have confirmed a probable link between fracking and earthquakes
Scientists in Ohio link fracking to earthquakes 01:35

Scientists in Ohio are drawing a link between fracking and earthquakes in the area. Fracking, short for hydraulic fracturing, is an oil and gas drilling process that shoots a mix of water, sand and other chemicals into rock a mile or more underground, raising concerns that it could trigger activity along earthquake fault lines.

"It's important to figure out where exactly in the earth these earthquakes occurred and how is it related to the fracking," said Dr. Raymond Beiersdorfer, a professor at Youngstown State who works with the Ohio Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences.

Researchers have recorded more than 100 mild quakes in Ohio since they started looking into the possible link between earthquakes and drilling 15 years ago. The state has temporarily shut down a group of wells suspected of causing quakes and the Department of Natural Resources is setting tougher standards for drilling permits.

But those in favor of fracking see it as a boost for a local economy that struggled after the steel mills closed. Industry spokesman Mike Chadsey says companies will follow the new regulations but believes the drilling is still in the state's best interest.

"This is a powerful thing in the state of Ohio. It's changing a lot of lives, it's saving a lot families, a lot of businesses. Slowing it down is certainly something we want to watch," he told CBS News' Omar Villafranca.

It is changing lives, indeed, but some locals say the economic gains do not outweigh the damage of the quakes.

Richard Grimm, a 75-year-old farmer from Mahoning County, Ohio, says he reluctantly agreed to lease his land to an energy company for fracking. Now, he's feeling the quakes. "A little bit of trembling in the house, pictures shaking in the house," he described to CBS News. He said he would gladly give back the money he received, "in a heartbeat... It's not worth it, it's absolutely not worth it."

Ohio's new regulations will impact new wells but will not affect existing wells. New drilling sites in Ohio within three miles of a known fault line will be required to include seismic-monitoring equipment.

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