Oklahoma Worries Over Swarm of Earthquakes and Connection to Oil Industry
by Lori Montgomery (The Washington Post) … What to do about the plague of earthquakes is, however, very much an open question in Oklahoma. Last year, 567 quakes of at least 3.0 magnitude rocked a swath of counties from the state capital to the Kansas line, alarming a populace long accustomed to fewer than two quakes a year.
Scientists implicated the oil and gas industry — in particular, the deep wastewater disposal wells that have been linked to a dramatic increase in seismic activity across the central United States.
With seismologists warning that the spreading earthquake swarms could trigger something far bigger and potentially deadly, pressure is building to follow the lead of other oil and gas-producing states and take more aggressive action.
When industry representatives have ventured forth, they have denied responsibility for the quakes. At a luncheon hosted by the Oklahoma City Geological Society last summer, Glen Brown, a Continental Resources geologist, blamed a worldwide surge in seismic activity that has nothing to do with wastewater disposal.
“The science has been there since the 1960s to link injection wells to earthquakes,” said (attorney Scott) Poynter, who has also represented victims of “induced” or manmade quakes in Arkansas.
There, Poynter is on solid ground. Both the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the Oklahoma Geological Survey have confirmed a connection between the recent oil and gas boom and a sharp uptick in seismic activity in Texas, Colorado, Arkansas and Ohio, as well as Oklahoma. New extraction techniques, such as horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, generate massive amounts of wastewater, which are then injected deep underground to avoid contaminating clean water near the surface. READ MORE and MORE (Sydney Morning Herald)