Oklahoma’s earthquake crisis isn’t going away anytime soon as long as oil and gas companies continue to extract fossil fuels here using enhanced hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling techniques to make their money while everyone else suffers the consequences of their massive environmental damage and destruction to the state and nation.
A spokesperson for the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, the state agency that has completely failed, at this point, to protect the safety of Oklahomans and their property, put this way recently in what almost seems like a sarcastic, rub-it-in-your face comment at a Rotary Club meeting in Enid: “”We have had 15 (earthquakes) in Medford since 5 o’clock Saturday morning. We’ve got an earthquake issue.” I say “almost” because the spokesperson, Matt Skinner, quoted in the Enid newspaper, probably takes his agency’s lame apologias seriously and wants us to do so, too. He has to make a living like everyone else.
Let’s be clear: Nothing will be done significantly about the emergency “earthquake issue” here until ALL the Corporation Commission members are replaced with more enlightened people and Gov. Mary Fallin and Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt are no longer in office. Fallin, Pruitt and all the members of the commission are beholden to the oil and gas industry because of large campaign contributions. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say these politicians are actively working in the interests of energy companies.
The larger issue is that we have a broken political system in this country in which corporations direct and influence the entire political agenda. These corporations do so to make as much money as they can, and especially to line the pockets of their wealthy executives. What we’re left with is massive income inequality and, well, here in Oklahoma, a lot of shaking and rattling as the earthquakes continue.
After a slight dip recently in earthquakes of 3.0-magnitude or higher in Oklahoma, the quakes are starting to roll again. A 4.1-magnitude earthquake was one of those quakes that recently shook up the Medford area recently. Meanwhile, the corporate media here is finally beginning to report about the national security issue the earthquakes pose as they rumble near the Cushing oil storage facility, which is one of the largest in the world. A massive, catastrophic disaster at the Cushing facility would push oil prices up to levels that would create an energy crisis in the United States. Hmm. That would be good for the oil and gas industry, wouldn’t it?
In the hydraulic fracturing, or fracking process, water containing salt and toxic chemicals is injected by extremely high pressure underground to create fissures in rock formations that release fossil rules, such as oil and “natural” gas. The wastewater is then injected underground by high pressure into what are called injection or disposal wells. Scientists have concluded the wastewater injection or disposal process is triggering earthquakes along previously dormant fault lines in Oklahoma. Environmentalists also claim the tracking process leads to water contamination and waste.
Oklahoma now leads the contiguous United States in earthquakes 3.0-magnitude or higher per year. The state is on track to experience 900 or more 3.0-magnitude earthquakes or above this year. Just a few years ago, the state only experienced two or three earthquakes that few people even noticed. Once the fracking boom, responsible for a worldwide fossil fuel glut, got cranked up a few years, the earthquakes increased in huge numbers.
It’s truly a major crisis that our state leaders are not taking seriously enough. It’s almost as if there’s a morbid need among these public officials for some type of catastrophic crisis caused by a possible major earthquake of 6.0-magnitude or above so we can show the nation the “Oklahoma standard” after which we come begging the federal government again to bail us out for our latest act of stupidity. Of course, many conservatives here hate the same federal government that will save the day or, you know, replace their destroyed home with a new one.
I digress. As many of you know, I’ve been closely following Oklahoma’s earthquake crisis since the 5.6-magnitude earthquake that caused damage in and near Prague, Oklahoma in 2011. That was four years ago. The Corporation Commission is just now getting around to really making injection or disposal well operators to substantially reduce volume amounts, but it’s too late and not enough.
Skinner, the Corporation Commission spokesperson speaking to the Rotarians, said this as well, as quoted in the Enid newspaper: “. . . the [oil and gas] industry responded in a huge way, and they don’t get enough credit. It was a few brave souls that came forward.”
Does Skinner really believe this? Probably. Do many or at least some members of the Enid Rotary Club believe this? Probably.
Here’s the truth: The oil and gas industry is never going to take responsibility for the earthquakes and its overall damage and destruction to the environment here in Oklahoma. The current state leadership—Fallin, Pruitt, members of the Corporation Commission—is not going to do anything to protect Oklahomans and their property. Corporations run government here and elsewhere now, not ordinary people, and, in the end, it’s the people’s fault for not speaking out or even voting. The right-wing here and elsewhere will continue to demonize people like myself and many others who want to move the nation to renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind, which have a far, far less negative impact on the environment.
I’m available to speak to and share my ideas with the Enid Rotary Club, but, see, I’m the extremist, not the guy supporting an industry that has “responded in a huge way” to NOT solving a problem they created in the first place. I don’t see an invite from the club in my future.