Quantcast
Popular

It's Official: Oklahoma Experiences More Earthquakes Than Anywhere Else in the World

It's official: Oklahoma now has more earthquakes than anywhere else in the world, according to a spokesman from the Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC), which oversees the Sooner State's oil and gas industry.

Several earthquakes have struck Oklahoma in just these past four days. As Oklahoma Corporation Commission spokesman Matt Skinner said about the state's increased seismic activity, "We've got an earthquake issue." Photo credit:
Earthquaketrack.com

"We have had 15 [earthquakes] in Medford since 5 o'clock Saturday morning," said spokesman Matt Skinner on Nov. 9, according to the Enid News. “We’ve got an earthquake issue.”

"OCC has developed areas of interest, where earthquake clusters have occurred. A cluster is two earthquakes within a half mile of each other, with one measuring at least magnitude 3.2. Originally, they were three-mile circles, then six-mile circles. The circles grew in number and now encompass a very large area of Oklahoma—about 9,000 square miles in all, [Skinner] said," reported the Enid News.

Scientists have linked this never-ending spate of tremors to the state's drilling boom. The Oklahoma Geological Survey concluded that the injection of wastewater byproducts into deep underground disposal wells from fracking operations has triggered the seismic activity in Oklahoma.

As EcoWatch reported two months ago, Oklahoma went from two earthquakes a year before 2009 to two a day. This year, roughly 700 earthquakes of magnitude 3 or higher has shook the state, compared to 20 in 2009.

The tremors are such a frequent occurrence that the OCC has forced changes to 500 disposal wells around the state, including the shut down of wells around the city of Cushing, which holds one of the largest crude oil storage facilities in the world.

The OCC is requiring well operators to show that water is not being injected below the state's deepest rock formations, which is believed to contribute to the earthquakes.

Incidentally, Oklahoma has about 4,500 disposal wells with about 3,500 still in operation, so these regulations only applied to a small fraction of the wells.

Skinner said the Oklahoma Geological Survey has seen an overall reduction in earthquakes. However, he noted, "Now, this weekend may have blown that out of the water, I don't know."

"Again, based on the data, it would appear that even if you do the right thing, it's going to take a long time," he said. "There's no quick off switch."

In August, even pro-business Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin admitted there was a "direct correlation between the increase of earthquakes that we’ve seen in Oklahoma [and] disposal wells."

However, Fallin is still weighing some of the pros and cons of fracking in her state. Oklahoma is one of the top natural gas-producing states in the country, and the sector provides a significant number of jobs in the state.

“We want to do it wisely without harming the economic activity we certainly enjoy and the revenue, quite frankly, we certainly enjoy,” Fallin said. “The council has worked very hard to ensure the energy sector, state agencies, environmentalists and academia are all talking and sharing that data and we have a scientific-based approach to reducing seismicity in our state.”

Many Oklahomans are worried that, one day, a damaging earthquake could strike. Fallin's advice to residents is that "they should call their insurance agent and see what types of products are available," to protect themselves. This advice from the governor was unsurprisingly met by criticism.

Angela Spotts, co-founder of Stop Fracking Oklahoma (formerly Stop Fracking Payne County), said many insurance policies have high deductibles and cover only catastrophic damage, according to Tulsa World.

“It really appears to me we are protecting the industry in this state,” Spotts said. “Their jobs are important. But my home and all the people I speak for that don’t have the courage to stand up and speak out, our lives, homes, property and well-being is every bit as important as the jobs in the oil and gas industry. And I sincerely don’t believe the actions have been quick enough and fast enough and protecting from one of the big ones from happening."

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE 

Portland Bans Fossil Fuel Export

Gov. Cuomo Vetoes Port Ambrose Liquefied Natural Gas Project

TransCanada’s Next Move? Pipeline to Mexico Carrying U.S. Fracked Gas

Pennsylvania Township Passes Bill of Rights Banning Fracking Wastewater Injection Wells

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Oceans
The crew of the Greenpeace ship MY Arctic Sunrise voyage into the Great Pacific Garbage Patch document plastics and other marine debris. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a soupy mix of plastics and microplastics, now twice the size of Texas, in the middle of the North Pacific Ocean. Justin Hofman / Greenpeace

Teen Vogue Joined Greenpeace at the Great Pacific Garbage Patch — Here’s What They Saw

By Perry Wheeler

Throughout this year, people all over the globe united to take on plastic pollution. Greenpeace supporters have asked their local supermarkets to phase out throwaway plastics, helped us reach 3 million signatures to companies like Coca-Cola, Nestle and Unilever demanding they invest in real solutions and participated in beach cleanups and brand audits to name the worst corporate plastic polluters.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
Pexels

Advocates Shouldn’t Be Afraid to Tell the Truth About Climate Change

By Jeremy Deaton

It has been a tough few months for climate change. In October, an international body of climate scientists declared humans have a little more than a decade to make the drastic changes needed to keep rising temperatures reasonably in check. In November, federal scientists released an equally grim assessment detailing the unprecedented floods, droughts and wildfires expected to hit the U.S. Then, this month, with the world ablaze, diplomats gathered in Poland to bicker over how much water each country should pour on their respective fires and, in some cases, whether scientists were exaggerating the size of the flames.

Keep reading... Show less
Ildar Sagdejev / Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 4.0

The Dirty Scheme to Make Americans Buy More Gasoline

By Rhea Suh

It's not often that an industry chieftain brags to investors about picking the pockets of American families with help from the White House.

That's what happened, though, after Big Oil schemed with the Trump administration last summer to ensure higher gasoline consumption—to the tune of $16 billion a year—and more climate-disrupting carbon pollution from our cars, vans and pickup trucks.

Keep reading... Show less
Energy
The planned Liberty Project is an artificial gravel island to allow oil drilling in the Arctic. Hilcorp / BOEM

Trump Administration Sued Over Controversial Arctic Drilling Project

Conservation groups are suing the Trump administration to halt construction of a controversial oil production facility in Alaska's Beaufort Sea, the first offshore oil drilling development in federal Arctic waters.

Hilcorp Alaska received the green light from the Interior Department in October to build the Liberty Project, a nine-acre artificial drilling island and 5.6-mile underwater pipeline, which environmentalists warn could risk oil spills in the ecologically sensitive area, threaten Arctic communities and put local wildlife including polar bears at risk.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Popular
AAron Ontiveroz / Denver Post / Getty Images

5 Everyday Products Contaminated With Plastic

However, the infiltration of plastics into our daily lives goes much deeper, making it hard to avoid this polluting material which will remain in our ecosystems for centuries to come.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Fracking waste from the Vaca Muerta shale basin in Argentina being dumped into an open air pit. Greenpeace

Indigenous Group Sues Exxon, Energy Majors Over Fracking Waste Contamination in Patagonia

A major indigenous group in the Argentine Patagonia is suing some of world's biggest oil and gas companies over illegal fracking waste dumps that put the "sensitive Patagonian environment," local wildlife and communities at risk, according to Greenpeace.

The Mapuche Confederation of Neuquén filed a lawsuit against Exxon, French company Total and the Argentina-based Pan American Energy (which is partially owned by BP), AFP reported. Provincial authorities and a local fracking waste treatment company called Treater Neuquén S.A. were also named in the suit.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Food
A Yelp event at Rip's Malt Shop in Brooklyn, New York, which serves vegan comfort food, including plant-based proteins produced by Beyond Meat and Field Roast. Yelp Inc. / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Should Plant-Based Proteins be Called 'Meat'?

By Melissa Kravitz

Fried chicken, bacon cheeseburgers and pepperoni pizza aren't uncommon to see on vegan menus—or even the meat-free freezer section of your local supermarket—but should we be calling these mock meat dishes the same names? A new Missouri law doesn't think so. The state's law, which forbids "misrepresenting a product as meat that is not derived from harvested production livestock or poultry," has led to a contentious ethical, legal and linguistic debate. Four organizations—Tofurky, the Good Food Institute, the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri and the Animal Legal Defense Fund—are now suing the state on the basis that not only is the law against the U.S. Constitution, but it favors meat producers for unfair market competition.

Keep reading... Show less
Energy
A coal-fired power plant in Jiangxi, China. chuyu / iStock / Getty Images Plus

IEA: China and India to Fuel Further Rise in Global Coal Demand in 2018

By Daisy Dunne

The IEA's Coal 2018 report finds that global coal demand grew by 1 percent in 2017 after two years of decline. The rise was chiefly driven by global economic growth, it says. Despite recent growth, demand is still below "peak" levels seen in 2014.

Demand is likely to "remain stable" until 2023, the report authors say. This is because falling demand in western Europe and North America is likely to be offset by increased demand in a host of Asian countries, including India, Indonesia and Vietnam.

Carbon Brief takes a look at the IEA's changing coal forecasts for key world regions.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!