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September 24, 2017

EQ-IQ: “the issue is extremely complex” says OCC


How is your earthquake “IQ?” No doubt most of us have done a little self-education about the temblors that shake us out of our sleep, knock our pictures off the wall and rattle our nerves (not to mention check our insurance policies). We’ve had a few years to deal with it, and no doubt remember the 5.0 quake in Prague in 2011. At our place north of Luther, in Logan County, we’ve been spared – no damage, and we didn’t even wake up to this morning’s doozie toward Edmond. Comment if you know of any significant damage in the 73054 area. Thanks.

Those Edmond earthquakes this week are renewing the quake debate. Who else heads straight to the USGS website (or social media) for the data after we hear and feel that familiar roll? (Today’s stats: 4.2; 5:39 am; 3 miles NE of Edmond; 5 km deep.) Is the increased quake activity (more than California, thank you very much) related to salt-water injections at oil and natural gas wells? Perhaps. But the Oklahoma Corporation Commission says not so fast.

From a media advisory released this morning:

The Oil and Gas Division staff of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission is taking action in response to the earthquake activity in the Edmond area. This is an ongoing response, and details on the most immediate actions should be available Monday, January 4. The issue is extremely complex, as the initial review of the data for the area in question has not identified any oil and gas wastewater disposal wells that are both high volume and in the state’s deepest formation, a combination that researchers have identified as being at the highest risk for inducing earthquakes.

“Extremely complex” … no kidding. Read the rest of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission’s media advisory here. 

Meanwhile, on Facebook, Oklahoma County Commissioner Ray Vaughan (who represents Edmond), posted a New Year’s Day suggestion:

“Ok, after this week and this morning, I’m ready for a moratorium on saltwater injection wells until a thorough study has been done regarding the proximity of fault lines and the effect of high pressure injections upon them.  Don’t like what is going on with my nerves and/or foundation.” Oklahoma County Commissioner Ray Vaughn, posted on FB.

What we know is earthquakes are coming and coming more often. And those in power are scrambling to figure out what’s going on and react through the quagmire of politics. Back in August 2015, Dana Murphy, one of three Oklahoma Corporation Commissioners elected by all Oklahoma voters to regulate our state’s energy industry said as much:

“This is an issue completely outside the scope of the experience of not only this agency, but all our partner agencies and stakeholders as well. There was a time when the scientific, legal, policy and other concerns related to this issue had to first be carefully researched and debated in order to provide a valid framework for such action. That time is over. Based on the research and analysis of the data compiled, we must continue to take progressive steps, and do so as quickly as possible as part of the continuing efforts to resolve this complex and challenging issue,” said Dana Murphy, vice chair, Oklahoma Corporation Commission.

Seems like it’s going to be a year of “complex and challenging” issues for our state government, both underground with seismic activity and at the Capitol with hundreds of millions of fewer dollars to fund our schools, roads, prisons and social services. The slump, as we know, is caused in part,  from the tanking of the oil and gas industry and the state’s long-suffering reliance on energy to pay the bills.

These issues of course filter down to us as we experience earthquakes, drive our bumpy roads, send our kids to financially crippled public schools and wring our hands about the lack of proper care for the mentally ill. We have sharpened our  “EQ IQ” … we can also tackle “complex and challenging” if we remind ourselves and those in power that we are stakeholders too. We are Oklahomans. Bring it on.

2 Responses “EQ-IQ: “the issue is extremely complex” says OCC”

  1. Amber Loberg
    January 1, 2016 at 8:35 pm

    So, do you feel we need to be “reminding those in power” of our concern with this situation? Are there phone calls that need to be made? Emails written to voice our concern? If so, to whom? Loved your article, but I am not sure that those in charge of the complex and challenging issues are “feeling” the urgency (or rumbles) as much as we are in East Edmond!

Have a thought? Please share. And thanks.

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