Oklahoma Earthquake Officially Largest in State's History
The 5.6 magnitude earthquake that rattled Pawnee, Oklahoma Saturday morning has been classified as largest in state history, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).
The September 3, 2016 Oklahoma earthquake occurred as the result of shallow strike-slip faulting about 15 kilometers northwest of the town of Pawnee.USGS
Earlier reports had matched the Labor day weekend temblor with the November 2011 Prague quake. However, USGS geophysicist Daniel McNamara confirmed to KOCO on Monday that the Pawnee earthquake was about 10 percent larger, even though it fell within the same 5.6 magnitude range.
The Midwestern state is not previously known for seismic activity, however the disposal of wastewater produced from fracking has led to the region's alarming increase in magnitude-3 or larger earthquakes in recent years. Scientists have dubbed this phenomenon as "induced earthquakes" as they are triggered by human activities as opposed to "natural" seismicity.
The USGS is currently investigating whether or not Saturday's earthquake—which occurred 25 miles north of the world's largest oil-storage complex in Cushing, Oklahoma—was triggered by wastewater fluid injection from oil and gas production in the area.
If the Sept. 3 quake was indeed triggered by wastewater injection, Oklahoma will set the record for the largest manmade earthquake in history. This dubious record is currently held by British Columbia, Canada, which felt a 4.6-magnitude last year due to fluid injection from the fracking process.
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin declared a state of emergency for Pawnee County following the quake that was felt from Nebraska to Texas. The Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC), the state agency tasked with regulating the oil and gas industry, also immediately shut down all disposal wells within a 725-square mile in the Arbuckle shale formation. Commission spokesman Matt Skinner told Bloomberg that this is the first time the regulator issued the mandatory measure.
5.6 Magnitude #Earthquake Hits #Oklahoma, Felt in 5 States https://t.co/p6MnOIC4ov @sierraclub @MarkRuffalo @joshfoxfilm @FrackAction @350— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1472939474.0
According to KOCO, the Oklahoma Geological Survey said on Monday that the Pawnee quake could have been years in the making, adding that earthquakes can happen years after wastewater is disposed into the ground. Ominously, this implies that wastewater that has already been pumped into the ground could trigger future quakes.
It's important to note that the OCC did not shut down every well in the state. Oklahoma is currently home to 3,200 active disposal wells, according to data from the OCC.
In March, the USGS released a startling report showing that approximately 7 million people live and work in areas of the central and eastern U.S. with potential for damaging shaking from induced seismicity. There are roughly 40,000 disposal wells nationwide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says.
Environmentalists have called on a ban on fracking due to the recent spate of Oklahoma earthquakes.
"The 5.6 magnitude earthquake that occurred in Oklahoma and was felt throughout the Midwest this morning threatened countless homes and businesses, and put lives at risk," Wenonah Hauter, the executive director of Food & Water Watch, said.
"But it could have been prevented. This earthquake, and hundreds of others like it over the last few years, are the direct result of the underground disposal of fracking wastewater. There can't be fracking without disposing of fracking waste, and there is no safe way to do so. This is just one of many reasons why fracking is inherently dangerous and must be banned."
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.
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By Dolf Gielen and Morgan Bazilian
John Kerry helped bring the world into the Paris climate agreement and expanded America's reputation as a climate leader. That reputation is now in tatters, and President-elect Joe Biden is asking Kerry to rebuild it again – this time as U.S. climate envoy.
Energy Is at the Center of the Climate Challenge<p>The <a href="https://science2017.globalchange.gov/chapter/1/" target="_blank">effects of climate change</a> are already evident across the globe, from <a href="https://theconversation.com/100-degrees-in-siberia-5-ways-the-extreme-arctic-heat-wave-follows-a-disturbing-pattern-141442" target="_blank">extreme heat waves</a> to <a href="https://science2017.globalchange.gov/chapter/12/" target="_blank">sea level rise</a>. But while the challenge is daunting, there is hope. Solar and wind power have become the <a href="https://www.irena.org/publications/2020/Jun/Renewable-Power-Costs-in-2019" target="_blank">cheapest forms of power generation globally</a>, and technology progress and innovation continue apace to support a transition to clean energy.</p><p>In the U.S. under a Biden administration, long-term national climate legislation will depend on who controls the Senate, and that won't be clear until after two run-off elections in Georgia in January.</p><p>But there is no shortage of <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/features/2020-biden-climate-change-advice/" target="_blank">ideas for ways Biden</a> could still take action even if his proposals are blocked in Congress. For example, he could use executive orders and direct government agencies to tighten regulations on greenhouse gas emissions; increase research and development in clean energy technologies; and empower states to exceed national standards, <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-autos-emissions-california/defying-trump-california-locks-in-vehicle-emission-deals-with-major-automakers-idUSKCN25D2CH" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">as California did in the past with auto emission standards</a>. A focus on a just and equitable transition for communities and people affected by the decline of fossil fuels will also be key to creating a sustainable transition.</p><p>The U.S. position as the world's largest oil and gas producer and consumer creates political challenges for any administration. U.S. forays into European energy security are often treated with suspicion. Recently, France blocked <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/frances-engie-backs-out-of-u-s-lng-deal-11604435609" target="_blank">a multi-billion dollar contract</a> to buy U.S. liquefied natural gas because of concerns about limited emissions regulations in Texas.</p><p>Strengthening cooperation and partnerships with like-minded countries will be critical to bring about a transition to cleaner energy as well as sustainability in agriculture, forestry, water and other sectors of the global economy.</p>
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By Maria Caffrey
As we approach the holidays I, like most people, have been reflecting on everything 2020 has given us (or taken away) while starting to look ahead to 2021.
We Need More Than Listening<p>By now we have all become sadly accustomed to the current administration sidelining scientists, most prominently Dr. Anthony Fauci, because the facts they provide do not fit with the political rhetoric of the moment.</p><p>I have <a href="https://www.csldf.org/2019/08/22/csldf-helps-climate-scientist-maria-caffrey-fight-for-scientific-integrity/" target="_blank">my own history</a> of filing a scientific integrity complaint with the National Park Service (which falls under the Department of the Interior) after senior ranking employees attempted to censor one of my scientific reports. I know all too well the damage and pain that these actions cause, not just for the individual scientist, but also because these <a href="https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/attacks-on-science" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">attacks on science</a> over the last few years have undermined sound, evidence-based decision making.</p><p>President-elect Biden has repeatedly said that he will <a href="https://thehill.com/homenews/521638-trump-biden-will-listen-to-the-scientists-if-elected" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">listen to the scientists</a>. While this is certainly a welcome change, listening can only take us so far. This past week Lauren Kurtz from the <a href="https://www.csldf.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Climate Science Legal Defense Fund</a> and my colleague <a href="https://www.ucsusa.org/about/people/gretchen-goldman" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Gretchen Goldman</a> published <a href="https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/ten-steps-that-can-restore-scientific-integrity-in-government/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">an article</a> listing 10 actions the new administration should implement to show their commitment to strengthening government science:</p><ol><li>Clearly prohibit political interference and censorship.</li><li>Protect scientists' communication rights.</li><li>Acknowledge that attempts to violate scientific integrity, even if ultimately not fruitful, are still violations.</li><li>Protect federal scientists' right to provide information to Congress and other lawmakers.</li><li>Commit to incorporating the best science as part of agency decisions.</li><li>Elevate agency scientific integrity policies to have the full force of law.</li><li>Publicly release anonymized information about scientific integrity complaints and their resolutions at every agency.</li><li>Institute an intra-agency workforce, potentially under the White House <a href="https://www.ucsusa.org/sites/default/files/2020-09/strengthening-science-and-si-at-ostp.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Office of Science and Technology Policy</a>, to coordinate scientific integrity efforts across agencies, foster discussion of policy improvements, and standardize criteria for policies across agencies.</li><li>Strengthen whistleblower protections.</li><li>Ensure that policies cover all actors who will be dealing with science.</li></ol>
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<div id="da98c" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="478a197b7c59c92787c92bec92f1ac39"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1331662923710693376" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Bristol Bay forever, Pebble mine never. #NoPebbleMine #SaveBristolBay https://t.co/CBQ9zuy8A5</div> — Save Bristol Bay (@Save Bristol Bay)<a href="https://twitter.com/SaveBristolBay/statuses/1331662923710693376">1606328156.0</a></blockquote></div>
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