Oklahoma earthquake: State orders shutdown of 35 wells
Five months before Saturday’s 5.6 magnitude temblor in central Oklahoma, government scientists warned that oil and natural gas drilling had made a wide swath of the country more susceptible to earthquakes.
The U.S. Geological Survey, in a March report on “induced earthquakes,” said as many as 7.9 million people in parts of Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas now face the same earthquake risks as those in California.
The report found that oil and gas drilling activity, particularly practices like hydraulic fracturing or fracking, is at issue.
Saturday’s earthquake spurred state regulators in Oklahoma to order 37 disposal wells, which are used by frackers, to shut down over a 725-square mile area.
The Environmental Protection Agency is also assessing the region, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin said.
Fracking is used by oil and gas producers to extract oil from the ground — and it’s behind the massive boom in U.S. oil production. Fracking is a far more efficient drilling technique, but it’s also controversial.
The quake that struck Saturday is at least the second of its size to affect central Oklahoma since 2011.
Governor Fallin said six buildings on the Pawnee Nation reservation were left “uninhabitable” and emergency responders found a “variety of damage.”
The USGS report from March indicated there’s reason to believe there may be more, less docile quakes ahead.
“This research also shows that much more of the nation faces a significant chance of having damaging earthquakes over the next year,” USGS official Mark Petersen said.
Fracking has drawn ire from environmental groups who point to the risk of water contamination and depletion.
The American Petroleum Institute, the trade group that represents oil producers, did not immediately respond to CNNMoney’s request for comment on Saturday.
API has in the past tried to cast doubt on the link between fracking and large seismic activity. A 2015 report from the organization says there’s a “very low risk” that fracking causes earthquakes that could be felt above ground.
Meanwhile, the American energy industry is booming. The United States had 300,000 fracking wells last year, up from just 23,000 in 2000, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
–CNN’s Vivian Kuo contributed to this report.
Record-Tying Oklahoma Earthquake Felt as Far Away as Arizona
By ken miller, associated press
OKLAHOMA CITY — Sep 3, 2016, 7:22 PM ET
A record-tying earthquake in the edge of Oklahoma’s key energy-producing areas rattled the Midwest from Illinois to the southwest part of Texas on Saturday, and likely will bring fresh attention to the practice of disposing oil and gas field wastewater deep underground.
The United States Geological Survey said a 5.6 magnitude earthquake happened at 7:02 a.m. Saturday in north-central Oklahoma, on the fringe of an area where regulators had stepped in to limit wastewater disposal. That temblor matches a November 2011 quake in the same region.
An increase in magnitude 3.0 or greater earthquakes in Oklahoma has been linked to underground disposal of wastewater from oil and natural gas production.
The Oklahoma Corporation Commission, which since 2013 has asked wastewater-well owners to reduce disposal volumes in parts of the state, is requiring 37 wells in a 514 square mile area around the epicenter of the earthquake to shut down within seven to 10 days because of previous connections between the injection of wastewater and earthquakes.
“All of our actions have been based on the link that researchers have drawn between the Arbuckle disposal well operations and earthquakes in Oklahoma,” spokesman Matt Skinner said Saturday. “We’re trying to do this as quickly as possible, but we have to follow the recommendations of the seismologists, who tell us everything going off at once can cause an (earthquake).”
Skinner said the commission’s “area of interest” includes another 211 square miles in Osage County, but doesn’t know how many wells may be involved because the area is under the jurisdiction of the Environmental Protection Agency, and that the commission is working with that agency.
“EPA decides on the wells in Osage County. We don’t know anything about Osage County, legally we’re not even allowed to ask,” Skinner said…. SNIP
Don’s comment: So the EPA is working essentially “hand in glove” with the Fracking industry and the Oklahoma Corporation Commission is legally barred from even asking the EPA where the Fracking wells are…. As with the FCC the EPA is now just another captured agency. Read “Nation on the Take: How Big Money Corrupts Our Democracy and What We Can Do About It
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