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According to a U.S. Geological Survey, three million Americans are at risk by human-induced earthquakes in 2017.
USA TODAY

Three million Americans, primarily in Oklahoma as well as Kansas, are at risk by human-induced earthquakes This particular year, the U.S. Geological Survey said Wednesday.

that will’s the conclusion of a brand new report that will cites wastewater disposal by fracking as triggering the quakes. The number of Americans affected This particular year is actually less than last year, when the agency reported 7 million were at risk.

The drop is actually the result of fewer earthquakes occurring in 2016 than in 2015, the USGS said. Wastewater injection may have decreased in 2016 as a result of brand new regulations for its disposal, or slowed due to lower oil prices as well as less overall production.

“The not bad news is actually that will the overall seismic hazard because of This particular year is actually lower than inside 2016 forecast, nevertheless despite This particular decrease, there is actually still a significant likelihood for damaging ground shaking inside U.S. inside year ahead,” said Mark Petersen, chief of the USGS National Seismic Hazard Mapping Project.

Despite the decrease inside number of such earth-shaking events last year, Pawnee, Okla., was rocked by a 5.8-magnitude earthquake, the state’s largest ever recorded. In addition, the state logged the highest number of large earthquakes, of magnitude 4 or greater, USGS reported.

During the fracking process, waste water is actually collected as well as later disposed of by injecting the idea into deep underground wells at high pressure. that will water fills pores in dormant faults, causing them to slip as well as unleash the quakes, according to the USGS.

The drop-off in earthquakes is actually a positive sign that will “collaborative efforts between industry, scientists, as well as regulators are working,” said Katie Brown, a spokesperson for Energy In Depth, a program of the Independent Petroleum Association of America, a trade group.

However, the forecast for the number of human-induced as well as natural earthquakes This particular year is actually “hundreds of times higher than before induced seismicity rates rapidly increased around 2008,” Petersen said. “Millions still face a significant chance of experiencing damaging earthquakes, as well as This particular could increase or decrease with industry practices, which are difficult to anticipate.”

Environmental groups such as the Sierra Club as well as the Natural Resources Defense Council want all fracking curtailed. Fracking “is actually known to contaminate drinking water, pollute the air, as well as cause earthquakes,” the Sierra Club says on its website.

The USGS report said one more half million people face potential damage by natural earthquakes in 2017, which brings the total number of Americans at risk by both natural as well as human-induced earthquakes to 4 million for the year.

The report, published Wednesday in Seismological Research Letters, marks the second year the USGS has released an earthquake forecast.

Contributing: Rick Jervis, USA TODAY

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