Over five hundred citizens at a Town Hall meeting last week had a chance to talk to the experts concerning the earthquakes in their neighborhoods. Dr. Austin Holland from the Oklahoma Geological Survey and Tim Baker from the Oklahoma Corporation Commission both fielded questions from a packed Waterloo Baptist Church in Logan County.
Dr. Holland presented some findings showing that only a tenth of the seismic events in Oklahoma could be linked to some form of induced manmade event, such as fracking or waste disposal. These induced seismic (IS) events are generally small and local to the injection point. The earthquakes in Logan County are regional, come in swarms, and are more typical of a naturally occurring seismic event. But still, Holland cautioned, waste water injection is being closely monitored.
Tim Baker stressed that the Oklahoma Corporation Commission is responding to the situation, noting that new permits mandate the operators of injection facilities provide the Commission with extra data in seismically active zones. However, the Commission lacks the authority to shut down injection in the county because the science is not clear yet if the fracking is responsible. Baker noted that fracking has been going on for more than 70 years in Oklahoma, whereas the seismic activity only started to increase in 2009.
Many of the residents were not satisfied with the answers. A significant number of attendees made it clear that they wanted the earthquakes to stop – and shutting down the fracking and wastewater disposal was a good step to take.
State Representative Jason Murphey told his constituents that he has asked for a legislative study to look at the Corporation Commissions monitoring program, specifically when it comes to deep waste water injection sites.