Moving & Shaking: Oklahoma Earthquake Crisis Needs Stronger Response

Fracking In Karnes County on Flickr The Commons

Here in Earthquake Central, OK it keeps getting worse.

When will the shaking and rattling finally wake people up to the dangers of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in populated areas?

Do people here feel so beaten down by the prevailing political power structure and the oil and gas industry they will actually allow their homes to be damaged and possibly even destroyed to line the pockets of millionaire energy executives? Will they even risk the safety of their children?

Do you think the local corporate media, which includes conservatively biased publications like The Oklahoman, care one iota about your safety and property? Corporate media outlets here care about one thing: Advertising dollars.  In fact, The Oklahoman is owned by Colorado billionaire Philip Anschutz, who made his money in the drilling business. He dabbles in the media business so he can support right-wing causes, such as fracking near people's backyards to make more money for rich people like himself.  When I refer to rich people, of course, I'm not talking about hard-working roughnecks who work under dangerous conditions and are used up by the energy industry as expendable costs per unit. I'm talking about predominately rich white men, who wear suits and ties to work and flaunt their power because they earn their millions of dollars or even more destroying our environment and now our sense of safety and security in our own homes.

Here are some questions for every homeowner in central Oklahoma: How much damage have the earthquakes induced by fracking caused to your home and other buildings on your property already in the last few years? (I know my house has suffered damage because of the earthquakes. Can I prove it, though?) Do you really think the oil and gas industry is going to pay for repairs and replacement? Do you REALLY think the state government here, led by Gov. Mary Fallin right now, is going to make the energy industry pay up for its negligence?

All this comes to mind because of a series of earthquakes that hit near Crescent in central Oklahoma starting on Sunday. According to one media report, there have been nine earthquakes in all since Sunday around Crescent, including 4.5-magnitude and 4.0-magnitude quakes on Monday that caused minor damage. Crescent is about 38 miles north of Oklahoma City and only 27 miles or so from Edmond.

If you live in central Oklahoma, which I do, most likely you felt the biggest quakes. The 4.5-magnitude earthquake in particular felt like it was never going to stop. I was in my house. I made a dash for the door, which is apparently not what you're supposed to do. You're supposed to find cover under a sturdy table or desk when the roof caves to protect yourself from the falling debris. All this for natural gas, folks. This is what it has come to in Oklahoma these days. Have you taught your kids what to do when an earthquake caused by fracking starts shaking the house?

The scientific evidence shows the wastewater injection process used in fracking is the root cause for the ongoing earthquake emergency crisis here.  The evidence is so settled that two injections wells were shut down after the Crescent earthquakes, and one reduced its injected wastewater volume amount. But that action is not nearly enough. It's not even a minor dent in the problem. The massive number of earthquakes here will continue for the foreseeable future, and your safety and property are in serious jeopardy.

Here is the explanation paragraph I write for all of these earthquake posts:

In the fracking process, water laced with toxic chemicals is injected into rock formations to create fissures to release natural gas. The wastewater from this process is then injected by high pressure back into the ground for "storage." Scientists have determined the injection well process creates instability along fault lines, which triggers the quakes.

The oil and gas industry is increasingly unable to deny the connection, which has been its stance until recently when the evidence became overwhelming. The industry flacks and hacks make the argument now that fracking has been around for decades without major problems and that it's not really fracking, really, but the injection well process that has been identified as the problem, as if that really matters. It's all part of fracking.

The oil and gas industry flacks think you're stupid.  Fracked wells have been around for decades, true, but not anywhere close in the numbers we've witnessed recently under the "drill, baby, drill" mentality brought to you courtesy of the Republican Party. In addition, the fracking boom has brought this dirty, environmentally damaging process to populated areas. Literally, it's going on near people's backyards. What about the toxic fumes from the chemicals alone?

There's also the issue of the connection between fracking and water contamination. Read this post about a Stanford University study and water wells near fracking sites. Read this post about a possible connection between the fracking process and radiation in creek water in Pennsylvania. This is just recent information. People have been linking fracking to water contamination for years.

There are sensible ways for our country and, really, the entire world to achieve energy independence, which includes investing more in renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power that do less damage to the environment. There are probably even more sensible ways to dispose of fracking wastewater and to locate injection wells to limit or entirely prevent earthquakes, but that might mean a small cut in pay for Oklahoma's worshipped oil and gas barons, whose publicity agency is and since its inception has been The Oklahoman.

It's simply incredible. Oklahoma now leads the contiguous United States in the number of annual earthquakes of 3.0-magnitude or higher. What's frightening is the earthquakes are growing in their numbers and intensity, and state leaders aren't doing much to respond to the crisis.

This IS an Oklahoma crisis. This IS an Oklahoma emergency. It may not feel like the aftermath of a Moore tornado, folks, but that's only because this is a tragedy stretching over years and the corporate media outlets here are complicit with the oil and gas industry.  

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