Dark Red Oklahoma Angers Big Oil And Gas: Energy Practices Causing State’s Earthquakes

oklahoma earthquake

As the nation commemorates Earth Day 2015 this week with a variety of observances, activities and awareness campaigns, it’s the perfect time to renew calls for bipartisan cooperation to address climate change. And I’m also pleased to report a welcome anomaly among hard-core red states that should set an example for other Republican-led governments to follow.

On Tuesday, writer Michael Wines of The New York Times published a piece entitled Oklahoma Recognizes Role of Drilling in Earthquakes. The lead, pardon the pun, was rather seismic:

“Abandoning years of official skepticism, Oklahoma’s government on Tuesday embraced a scientific consensus that earthquakes rocking the state are largely caused by the underground disposal of billions of barrels of wastewater from oil and gas wells.”

Although we should not fall all over ourselves commending overdue common sense, the change is significant for two major reasons.

Oklahoma is a Red State – capital “R,” capital “S.” How Red is it? On January 25 of this year, Randy Krehbiel of the Tulsa World wrote, “Republicans will hold 112 of 149 seats in the Legislature that begins a week from Monday, plus every elected statewide office and the entire congressional delegation. And good luck to the Democrat who tries to make the two-party argument.”

With over 75 percent of the state’s lawmakers leaning to the hard right, it is kind of amazing that leadership would adopt a policy position that stands in direct contrast to the national party’s official platform on Natural Resources. Just for fun, here is the section related to Protecting Our Environment verbatim:

“The environment is getting cleaner and healthier. The nation’s air and waterways, as a whole, are much healthier than they were just a few decades ago. Efforts to reduce pollution, encourage recycling, educate the public, and avoid ecological degradation have been a success. To ensure their continued support by the American people, however, we need a dramatic change in the attitude of officials in Washington, a shift from a job-killing punitive mentality to a spirit of cooperation with producers, landowners, and the public. An important factor is full transparency in development of the data and modeling that drive regulations. Legislation to restore the authority of States in environmental protection is essential. We encourage the use of agricultural best management practices among the States to reduce pollution.”

I suppose the GOP forgot to forward this memo to the 97 percent of climate scientists who agree that our planet is not, in fact, “getting cleaner and healthier.” Maybe the total falsehood of the assertion is part of the problem.

In light of the party’s mandate that the federal government illustrate “a spirit of cooperation with producers [Big Energy], landowners [the landed gentry], and the public [afterthought peons],” Oklahoma is committing a real act of partisan treason. With its new position that oil and gas conglomerates are the direct cause of the state’s devastating earthquakes, up to two 3.0 magnitude tremors per day, cue the dissatisfaction of energy interests. After Republican Governor Mary Fallin’s office issued the new guidance this week, Wines writes:

“[The] actions met a mixed response from the oil and gas industry and the Governor’s critics. The Oklahoma Oil and Gas Association disputed the Geological Survey’s conclusions, saying in a statement that further study of the state’s quakes remained necessary.”

Uh huh. However, Democrats are welcoming the new, fact-based approach. Wines observes, “One of the most prominent advocates of stronger action on the earthquake issue, State Representative Cory Williams, a Democrat, said he had been pleasantly surprised by the change in what he called the state’s ‘head in the sand’ approach to the quake problem.

Climate change is one of the issues where it’s always better to act late than never. It remains to be seen if the practices of oil and gas companies can be altered to reverse the ecological damage done in the State of Oklahoma, and party leaders deserve continued rebuke for a failure to impose a moratorium sooner. In fact, they may never get around to imposing it at all. But if words are powerful and can change the constituent conversation (which they can, as it took years of disingenuous proselytizing from Republicans to talk the EPA-creating party of Nixon back into the dark ages), then Oklahoma may have just taken a great leap forward in saving itself.


Image via News 9

24 Replies to “Dark Red Oklahoma Angers Big Oil And Gas: Energy Practices Causing State’s Earthquakes”

  1. In 1960 or so, there was a science fiction story called “The Great Nebraska Sea”. In fact, there once was a mid-continental rift, and it’s not out of the question that excess fracking could reactivate it.

  2. Threats to clean water as well as increased seismograph-
    ic activity are valid reasons to end fracking. The huge
    profits this style of extraction provides make such an
    ceasation highly unlikely. Hope it’s not too late when the
    consequences are realized to reverse, if that is even an
    option then.

  3. I’ll wait and see what they actually do. Actions speak louder than words. I’m sure the oil and gas industries will try greasing the hands of the Republican legislatures in the state.

  4. The feelings, passion, emotion and fear of reduced profits or jobs will not change the facts of science. So why should we care what the Oil and Gas Industry think about it. They need to adapt to facts, not create doubt about them with bullshit.

  5. “OKLAHOMA CITY — Legislation that prohibits cities and towns from regulating oil and natural gas drilling operations was approved by the House on Wednesday, one day after the Oklahoma Geological Survey said it is “very likely” that a swarm of recent earthquakes were triggered by the subsurface injection of wastewater from drilling operations.”


  6. Was thinking along the same lines rey. Only , was thinking how nice it might be if Ok just split and the whole state went down into a dark abyss. eliminating a state filled with red A— and they did it to themselves!

  7. Millions of stupid people assuring that large numbers of their own will be killed or injured because of their stubborn, willfull ignorance.

    Then they’ll beg for Federal aid $$$ to rebuild their shattered trailer parks.

  8. The book that you are thinking about is “We Are The Earthquake Generation – May 5, 1955
    by Jeffrey Goodman”
    It used psychic predictions to state that California was going to fall into the sea and if you wanted Pacific Ocean beach front property, buy land in Nebraska.

  9. I love the way Gawd always punishes the Southern states for all the godless stuff that we Northeastern states do!

  10. Too bad they were too dumb to jump out of the pot before they started to get boiled alive.

    What DOES it take for these dumbsh1ts to stop voting based solely on their hate of “libs”, “dems”, and the mixed-race guy in the White House?

  11. You took the words out of my mouth — Fed $$. We’d hear first from DC OK ReThugs crying for FEMA $$. Same OK ReThugs that dragged feet for NJ FEMA. ReThug Red states believe they should be helped instantly but screw anyone else. Dems don’t have it in them to drag it out as they see it as people suffering. You know — you may not agree or like it — but I’ve found my backbone & I’d drag it and/or say no. People in those states habitually vote against their self interest — well suck it up & take care of yourselves then. I’m tired of subsidizing unregulated states – no building regs, TX non-disclosure or inspections re chemicals, etc. Those which don’t pay anything into the pot & drain far more than ever paid in. Some don’t pay income tax and/or have low sales tax yet complain. It’s one thing to need help but yr after yr flow back to them – enough. They want to vote morons in — they can pull their boot straps up as the elected Red morons tell us to do.

  12. i live in oklahoma & did not do this to myself….i vote democrat & have done so for the last decade or so….i used to work in the oilfield & suspected early on when the earthquakes first started what the cause might be….it remains to be seen if the idiots running the state will do anything….currently, the idiots are trying to pass a law so that cities here in the state can’t ban fracking in their city

  13. Slowly middle America is being dragged into the 21st century ( with much yelling and screaming ) and having to face up to many nasty realities

  14. As a Canadian, I have the advantage of being on the outside looking in. And, to be honest, the level of ignorance portrayed by American politics is laughable. Do the American people have any idea what the rest of the world thinks of them? I believe most of this foolishness is coming directly from the Republican party.
    Either way, enough is enough. It’s time for the American people to regain the respect they once commanded. It’s time to tell your politicians to stop playing with your lives, and your future. Your country is in a very serious situation right now. It’s time to make some hard choices,the right choices, and stop being led down a path whose only objective is to serve the interests of some of your corrupt politicians. You can’t all be that blind.

  15. Canadian, we aren’t all that blind. However, we do have a huge number of really ignorant people, who seem to revel in being ignorant. People (rethug) politicians who say “I am not a scientist” then refuse to believe what the scientific people are saying. Like it’s really cool to be uninformed. the Evangelical crowd who say “I believe in the Bible and every word in it” who deny the words of the educated. It seems the rethugs have turned the world upside down. Men who believe in war, yet, never served themselves and keep their children safely in college or doing “Better Things” as Romney’s did.
    The whole list of rethugs candidates for the Pres. are all dumb, money grubbing, deceptive pieces of human excrement, getting rich, with the help of men like the Koch’s. and their 900,000,000 million being spent on the next election.
    I myself wonder if, America can survive? I hope so!! Along with 13 generations who have also hoped .

  16. Canadian,
    In some ways you have the advantage of having a 5 party system — but note I say ‘in some ways’ as that’s why you have Harper – the ‘Big Oil Corp Lover’ who’s dying to get Keystone built. He’s also not good on environment. I’d call him ReThuglican Lite! The ‘airmiles’ being clocked by people from Harper’s admin flying to DC trying to ram the Keystone build & the lies & BS they spew – unreal. Harper loves those Big Oil Corps as he’s from Alberta! He too, like US ReThugs, doesn’t listen to voters. His new budget – those ‘gifts’ don’t happen til after election. Typical ReThug promises. Your Liberals and NDP parties end up splitting the left/center votes. I know Bloc is PQ only but have say nationally. Green tries but has never really got off the ground. But — You best keep your ears to the ground as you have your own TeaParty types up there too & it’s growing. There is more ‘chatter’ from the North than Canada’s been known for.

  17. Canadian, I have friends and relatives in foreign countries..yes, I know what they think of the US, and rightfully so.

    I am embarrassed myself to have the nit wits who are lawmakers representing us.

    Until people get educated, and Citizens United is overturned, our country will continue to be stupid, ignorant, and soulless; the worship of the dollar is obscene in this country. I agree with you. Thanks for the feedback.

  18. Right on, Deanne! I sure would like the Liberal and NDP parties to unite (just as the Reform and Conservative parties did) because then we’d have a real contest, and I know that the lefties would win.
    Harper is the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing. His wife is a die-hard evangelical and the only thing that has stopped him from bringing up social conservative issues such as abortion is his pragmatism and belief in incrementalism. But if he wins the next election, I truly fear he’ll put an abortion law on the table, and gawd only knows what else. There are enough reichwingers in his party (yes, Hagee crossed the border several years ago and his fundamentalism influence, especially in he west, has spread like the cancer it is).
    Sometimes I think we North American liberals are truly f*cked…….

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