Following an evening and day marked by several induced earthquakes in their city, Edmond residents and other Oklahomans turned out in the hundreds for a forum on the quake issue at the University of Central Oklahoma Tuesday night, a forum featuring well-known, national environmentalist Erin Brockovich.
— News 9 (@NEWS9) February 23, 2016
But after winning over the crowd with her blunt but inclusive talk and concern for the environment across the country, which drew a sustained standing ovation after she finished, the some overall 500 to 600 people in attendance got some other news.
State Rep. Richard Morrissette, an Oklahoma City Democrat, who organized the forum and a previous town hall on the state’s earthquake crisis, announced he plans to run for a seat on the Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC), which has been heavily criticized for its lack of a forceful response to the hundreds of earthquakes hitting Oklahoma because of the injection well process used in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
Morrissette told the crowds he wants to end the earthquake crisis. He will run this year for the commission seat now held by Dana Murphy.
His announcement drew thunderous applause, and another forum speaker, Casey Camp-Horinek, a Ponca Tribal Council Member, also brought down the house with her eloquent defense and celebration of the sacredness and transcendence of drinking water, which many environmentalists argue faces contamination and pollution and waste because of fracking and lack of regulation.
Erin Brockovich speaks out on Oklahoma’s earthquakes: OKLAHOMA – A night of anger for some and answers for others.… https://t.co/zZ0mTE3B4c
— OKC Breaking News (@okc_news) February 24, 2016
Brockovich, whose life was made into a 2000 Hollywood film starring Julia Roberts for her work in protecting a water supply in California in the early 1990s, was adamant that “politics should not come into play” when it comes to the impact of hydraulic fracturing on the environment. It’s a non-partisan issue or at least it should be, she said. She referred to Oklahoma as the “earthquake capital of the world,” and admitted she has a difficult time even believing it.
She also argued that the oil and gas industry and their supporters have tried to make people feel like they’re “crazy” when they report felt earthquakes or other natural and real environmental issues, such as polluted water. That’s why, she argued, it’s important to believe in your senses and intellectual capabilities about the natural environment and treat with skepticism people simply motivated by money when it comes to clean water and air.
The environmentalist also said the Oklahoma earthquake crisis had created even more anxiety in Oklahoma, which, as we all know, already deals with deadly tornadoes on a regular basis, and she was especially concerned about the psychological impact of it on children. She was at a lunch earlier in the day, she said, when someone brought up the question of “what if you’re in a tornado shelter and an earthquake happens?” It might be more funny if it wasn’t now a very real possibility.
Fracking is a process in which saltwater laced with toxic chemicals is injected underground to create fissures in rock formations that release fossil fuels. The wastewater is then injected underground into what are called injection or disposal wells for storage. Scientists agree the disposal well process triggers earthquakes along fault lines in Oklahoma, which some say now leads the world in seismic activity.
Several quakes rocked the Edmond area Monday evening and into Tuesday. A 3.9-magnitude earthquake struck Edmond Tuesday morning around 3 a.m. and woke up many people, who later attended the forum somewhat rattled and skeptical much will get done to stop the shaking. Other smaller quakes followed during the day.
”We’re on the brink of something going terribly wrong,” Brockovich said, but added she remained hopeful that people are waking up here and across the country to the detriments of environmental destruction.
I’m sure we’ll hear more soon about Morrissette’s campaign for OCC. As I posted recently, the earthquake issue in north-central and central Oklahoma looms over the political season. Republicans Gov. Mary Fallin and current commission members, Republicans Murphy, Bob Anthony and Todd Hiett, have apparently declined invitations to participate in recent earthquake forums obviously because they know they will face hostile crowds. All of them were free to attend the forum Tuesday whether personally invited or not or if they wanted to participate or not.
In addition, some central Oklahoma legislators, such as Republicans state Rep. Jason Murphey in Guthrie and state Sen. Clark Jolley in Edmond, drew critical and sarcastic remarks from the sometimes raucous crowd members about their lack of action on the issue. Where were they Tuesday night?
The U.S. House 5th District seat in Oklahoma, now held by Republican Steve Russell and which covers Edmond, could also come into real play this season. A previous candidate for that seat, Al McAffrey, a former Democratic state representative and senator, was at the forum Tuesday night. He plans to run again for the seat this year.
Just like Fallin, Anthony, Murphy and Hiett, U.S. Rep. Russell didn’t attend the event Tuesday either, and the earthquakes keep rolling.
Earthquakes Jolt Central Oklahoma https://t.co/wYTtDjk9s3 via kfor
— KFOR (@kfor) February 23, 2016