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5.6 Magnitude Earthquake Hits Oklahoma, Felt in 5 States

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5.6 Magnitude Earthquake Hits Oklahoma, Felt in 5 States

Early this morning, a record-tying 5.6 magnitude earthquake struck Pawnee, Oklahoma, producing rattles from Nebraska to North Texas. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the earthquake hit within the vicinity of an area where regulators intervened earlier this year to limit wastewater disposal produced from fracking. Today's earthquake prompted state regulators to shut down 37 wastewater-disposal wells.

The disposal of wastewater produced from fracking, has led to the alarming increase of earthquakes with magnitude-3 or larger by nearly 300 times, or 30,000 percent in north-central Oklahoma alone. In 2014, more than 5,000 earthquakes were reported.

Earlier this year, the Sierra Club and Public Justice filed suit against four of the primary culprits for wastewater disposal, citing that it causes an "imminent and substantial endangerment" to public health and the environment in violation of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.

On Sept. 7, the Oklahoma Chapter of the Sierra Club will be hosting an event—"Earthquakes and Wastewater Disposal"—with the American Chemical Society in Tulsa, Oklahoma, less than an hour from the site of today's earthquake. The public event will present the facts concerning the relationship between fracking produced wastewater disposal and the large number of earthquakes in the state.

"It's heartbreaking to see what has happened in my beloved home state, and I want to extend my thoughts and prayers to everyone here in Oklahoma, and those from Texas to Nebraska who suffered and were rattled by this morning's earthquake," Sierra Club Oklahoma chapter director Johnson Bridgwater said.

"Oklahomans, like all Americans, deserve the security and comfort of knowing that their homes will not crumble around them due to corporate malfeasance. The oil and gas industry, Governor Fallin and our state legislature must stop putting polluters' profits over its citizens safety and well-being, and take swift and immediate action to end this epidemic."

Former U.S. Sec. of Energy Ernest Moniz listens during the National Clean Energy Summit 9.0 on October 13, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Isaac Brekken / Getty Images for National Clean Energy Summit

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Amid reports that oil industry-friendly former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz remains under consideration to return to his old post in the incoming Biden administration, a diverse coalition of environmental groups is mobilizing for an "all-out push" to keep Moniz away from the White House and demand a cabinet willing to boldly confront the corporations responsible for the climate emergency.

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Climate change can evoke intense feelings, but a conversational approach can help. Reed Kaestner / Getty Images

Anger, anxiety, overwhelm … climate change can evoke intense feelings.

"It's easy to feel dwarfed in the context of such a global systemic issue," says psychologist Renée Lertzman.

She says that when people experience these feelings, they often shut down and push information away. So to encourage climate action, she advises not bombarding people with frightening facts.

"When we lead with information, we are actually unwittingly walking right into a situation that is set up to undermine our efforts," she says.

She says if you want to engage people on the topic, take a compassionate approach. Ask people what they know and want to learn. Then have a conversation.

This conversational approach may seem at odds with the urgency of the issue, but Lertzman says it can get results faster.

"When we take a compassion-based approach, we are actively disarming defenses so that people are actually more willing and able to respond and engage quicker," she says. "And we don't have time right now to mess around, and so I do actually come to this topic with a sense of urgency… We do not have time to not take this approach."

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media
Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.

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