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Ohio Links Fracking With Earthquakes, Announces Tougher Rules

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NEW YORK, April 11 (Reuters) - Ohio regulators announced new rules for oil and gas drilling on Friday after evidence emerged linking the hydraulic fracturingextraction method, known as fracking, to recent earthquakes.

In the strongest wording yet from the state, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) said that injecting sand, water and chemicals deep underground to help release oil and gas could be inducing tremors.

Last month, drilling was suspended at the site of two earthquakes in PolandTownship in the northeast of the state, 70 miles southeast of Cleveland, the first of which was magnitude 3.0, enough to be felt for miles around.

"Regarding the seismic events in Poland Township, ODNR geologists believe the sand and water injected into the well during the hydraulic fracturing process may have increased pressure on an unknown microfault in the area," the deparment said in a statement.

The rules announced Friday require companies to install seismic monitors if fracking occurs within three miles of a known fault or an area which has recently experienced quakes, the ODNR said.

Friday's statement could have wide implications not just for a state where a drilling boom is underway, but in other regions where concerns have emerged about the impact of fracking on fault lines.

The DNR had not previously linked earthquakes to fracking, which involvesfracturing rock by creating a series of small blasts thousands of feet below the surface.

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