As a result of the decision, "New permits for drilling within three miles of a known underground geologic fault or area of seismic activity greater than 2.0 magnitude will require companies to install seismic monitors," Downing writes. "The order would affect any quakes since 1999 that were recorded at magnitude 2.0 or greater. If those monitors detect a quake of 1.0 magnitude or greater, drilling activities would be halted while the cause is investigated. If that investigation reveals a probable connection to hydraulic fracturing, all well completion operations will be suspended."
James Zehringer, director of the Department of Natural Resources, told Downing, "While we can never be 100 percent sure that drilling activities are connected to a seismic event, caution dictates that we take these new steps to protect human health, safety and the environment." Earthquakes in states such as Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas have been linked to fracking, but state officials have either denied those claims or are in the process of conducting studies. (Read more)