Earthquakes have rattled the State of Oklahoma this week. Three of a magnitude of 4.0 rocked the northwest overnight on Wednesday, and many blame the oil and gas industry.
The latest rumblings come on the heels of Monday’s decision by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, which regulates the state's oil and natural gas industry, demanding that five wastewater injection wells reduce volumes after a behemoth quake rocked Edmond, Oklahoma on New Year’s Day.
Oklahoma’s earthquakes have been linked to injecting wastewater underground from oil and gas production. Regulators have ordered a reduction in volume and the closure of some wells.
During the fracking process, wastewater is pumped deep unground, building pressure along fault lines. Many geologists say that the fracking process wouldn’t be as damaging if the water was pumped away from the fault lines. Sounds easy, right?! Some say doing so is expensive and digs in to profits. Operators don’t want to lose money when optimizing costs when the low oil price environment is already such an issue. That’s where regulators step in and make the decisions for companies.
“It’s a tough reality for everyone in the industry,” says John Chris, a recently laid off oil field worker. “We try to change processes, make adjustments, but then we lose our jobs.”
The U.S. Geological Survey reported a magnitude 4.7 quake hit just before 10:30 p.m. Wednesday about 20 miles northwest of Fairview, Oklahoma, and a magnitude 4.8 quake struck about a half mile away less than a minute later. A magnitude 4.0 quake was recorded in the area just after 2:30 a.m. Thursday.
More than a dozen smaller earthquakes were recorded by the USGS on Wednesday night and Thursday morning.
Hundreds of people have reported feeling the quakes in Kansas and Oklahoma. There were also reports to the USGS that the quake was felt hundreds of miles away in Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Texas and Wisconsin.
“I don't have a problem with a certain amount. I do have a problem with the industry preventing the government from knowing what chemicals are being used and how those are affecting water supplies. And I don't think there's a question that it's contributing to the earthquakes, though those investigations are also apparently being impeded by the industry.” – Michael R.
“Just heard on the news that earthquakes caused by fracking are a manmade disaster and therefore the damage is not covered by the earthquake portion of an insurance policy. What should homeowners do?” – Pamela D.
“When Oklahoma surpasses California on the earthquake front, you can be certain there is a problem!” – Aaron B.
“I have a problem with the insurance industry in regards to my property and coverage.” – Miranda F.
"Living in Edmond has always been peaceful, but the recent earthquakes have everyone concerned. Can our homes stand up to constant tremors? Will we continue to be safe? What if we have plans to sell, will that affect our home value? Our safety and security are in jeopardy." - Kate D.
"Water pollution. No thank you." - Julie G.
"I live in an older house that didn't have any cracks in 2011 and had a good inspection on the foundation. Now the walls have a lot of small cracks and it is hard to know if that is just natural aging or all the mini-quakes constantly rattling it. How can you prove that and if so then how can you get compensated? I probably have a lot more questions than opinions at this point." - Jeremy S.
"Are the earthquakes going to get progressively worse? Or is this as bad as we can expect?" - Jay W.