|Gov. Mary Fallin talks with the media after meeting with members of the Coordinating Council on Seismic Activity in Oklahoma City. With both the number and power of earthquakes increasing in Oklahoma, the Republican-controlled Legislature may be ready to take steps aimed at curbing the quakes scientists have linked to the underground disposal of oil and gas wastewater. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)|
TULSA, Okla. (AP) — State regulators are asking oil and gas producers in central Oklahoma to restrict wastewater disposal operations to help temper a sharp increase in the number and severity of earthquakes.
Monday's request covers more than 400 wells across 5,200 square miles. It comes after a similar directive in February covering nearly 250 wells in northwestern Oklahoma. Scientists blame wastewater disposal volumes for increased seismicity.
The Oklahoma Corporation Commission says the new cuts should reduce disposal volumes by 40 percent from 2014 levels.
The number of earthquakes with a magnitude 3.0 or greater has skyrocketed in Oklahoma, from a few dozen in 2012 to more than 900 last year.
A 5.1-magnitude quake hit northwestern Oklahoma Feb. 13, days before the commission's earlier directive, which had been in the works since October.