By John Lawrence
We have written previously about the fact that Oklahoma is now the earthquake capital of the US. It seems forcing all the waste products from fracking down deep wells has disturbed the earth enough to cause a lot of earthquakes there. In addition to jolting the nerves of Oklahomans, it is destroying their property. In 2014, there were over twice as many earthquakes recorded in Oklahoma as in California, making Oklahoma the most seismically active state in the contiguous United States by a substantial margin.
Residents of the town of Pawnee, which has suffered the most earthquakes, have filed a class action lawsuit against 27 energy companies. The lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount of money for property damage plus emotional distress. The lawsuit claims that companies are showing “reckless disregard for public or private safety.”
A magnitude 5.8 earthquake struck the town last September and there have been 52 more since then. Another large quake struck the nearby town of Cushing on November 6. Regulators have asked the oil and gas companies to either close these injection wells or reduce the volume of fluids they inject. In the age of Trump, these regulators will probably be fired because the Trump administration is all for deregulation. And besides it is only scientists who have claimed that injecting huge amounts of chemical laced wastewater deep underground is causing the quakes. What do they know?
In Trump’s mind it is probably just a hoax like climate change. Meanwhile, Oklahoma residents who have been provided with many jobs in the oil and gas industry will just have to suck it up. It’s your jobs versus a little inconvenience like having your brick chimney fall down.
Oklahoma had more earthquakes in 2015 than every state combined, including Hawaii but excluding massive Alaska. Forty-nine U.S. states, including Oklahoma recorded a total of 1,586 earthquakes of magnitude 3 or greater. Of these, Oklahoma had 907 quakes. That leaves the other 48 contiguous U.S. states plus Hawaii with a combined total of 679.
Arkansas may well be ahead of the curve here. They stopped quakes there after the Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission decided to use their regulatory powers and ban wells for the disposal of drilling fluids in 2011.
Children Are Afraid Roof Will Fall In
An attorney for the recent lawsuit said, “We have clients who don’t allow their children to go upstairs because they’re afraid the roof will fall in on them.”
Damage from the quakes has ranged from cracks in walls, foundations and storm shelters to short circuited electrical outlets. Despite the lawsuits oil and gas producers are eagerly looking forward to exploiting other fossil fuel rich sites in Oklahoma. Any damage to local townspeople will just have to be looked at as collateral damage. Trump has given the industry a green light to go ahead and accelerate production.
From USA Today:
The man that Donald Trump calls the “king of energy” in the U.S. predicts quick action by the next president to roll back Obama administration policies opposed by the oil and natural gas industry.
“There are so many of them. You just scrap them,” Harold Hamm, the billionaire CEO of Continental Resources, said Wednesday, hours after Trump’s surprising win over Democrat Hillary Clinton.
“There’s five times the regulation on our industry than there was before the Obama administration,” Hamm said in an interview. “I mean, it’s just been a pile-on.”
Trump has promised to rescind all of Obama’s executive orders his first day in office and to withdraw from the Paris global warming agreement.
Bill McKibben of 350.org says we need to stop drilling and fracking now if we want to save the planet from out of control global warming. “If our goal is to keep the Earth’s temperature from rising more than two degrees Celsius—the upper limit identified by the nations of the world—how much more new digging and drilling can we do? Here’s the answer: zero.”
Trump would like to abolish the Environmental Protection Agency, something that would leave those Americans who have been exposed to toxic substances without any mercy on the Federal level. Sunny day flooding like that experienced in low lying areas like Florida would only get worse. The people of Flint, MI would likely be left to drink their toxic water without any relief from a Trump administration. Monsanto will be applying their weed killer, glyphosate, with uninhibited glee. Already levels in American food products are extremely high.
The EPA has concluded that fracking, in addition to causing earthquakes, also contaminates drinking water. Actor and activist Mark Ruffalo, who is on the advisory board of the American Against Fracking coalition, said, “At last the EPA confirms what independent science has overwhelmingly determined for years, that drilling and fracking contaminate drinking water. Across the country, Americans have had their lives turned upside down as fracking has poisoned the water coming out of their faucets and has made their families sick. Now all of our federal and state elected officials need to take action to protect Americans by banning fracking. Water is life.”
Trump Appoints Pro Fracker to Head EPA
Trump has appointed Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma’s Attorney General, to head the EPA. “We are a leading innovator in natural gas production through hydraulic fracking,” Pruitt said, “a technological innovation that has done more to reduce carbon emissions in this country than any other technological advancement of our time.”
How ironic that the man Trump appoints to lead the EPA is from the state that has had the most earthquakes due to fracking, and he is a full steam ahead pro fracker who has been fighting the EPA for years!
Food and Water Watch has said that “Pruitt has been one of the loudest opponents of the EPA, suing the EPA over clean air and water rules. He has consistently sided with the Oil and Gas industry including combating the 17 state Attorneys General standing up to Exxon’s climate deception, submitting a letter drafted by Devon Energy to the EPA questioning federal estimates of the amount of air pollution from gas drilling in Oklahoma, and calling the agency’s attempts to regulate fracking’s impact on drinking water as politically motivated. Pruitt could dismantle the agency piece by piece rolling back decades of critical work to make our environment livable.”
Doubling down on the promotion of the oil and gas industry Trump has appointed a Congressman from Montana, Ryan Zinke, as Secretary of the Interior. The Washington Post said:
Zinke recently criticized an Interior Department rule aimed at curbing inadvertent releases of methane from oil and gas operations on federal land as “duplicative and unnecessary.”
“Clean air and clean water are absolute top priorities when we talk about responsible energy development, however the final rule issued by the Obama administration does nothing to further protect our resources,” he said in a statement. “This rule is a stark reminder that we need to invest in infrastructure projects like the Keystone pipeline, so we don’t need to flare excess gas.”
Zinke and Pruitt are just the latest additions to the cesspool of deplorables that Trump is choosing for his cabinet.
Meanwhile, in California there has been some success in banning fracking. This is from Food and Water Watch:
This was a monumental year for our campaign to ban fracking in California as we worked with community groups to win countywide fracking bans in Butte, Alameda and Monterey counties!
We were thrilled when Butte County voters passed a fracking ban with over 70% of the vote in June, which was followed by a unanimous vote to ban fracking by the Alameda County Supervisors in July!
The big enchilada was beating Chevron to pass Measure Z to stop fracking and the dumping of toxic wastewater in Monterey County, where much of our nation’s vegetables are grown. Despite Chevron spending over $6 million to defeat us, we won with 55 percent of the vote!
We should rejoice that we live in California which is leading the nation and showing the way to a healthier, toxic free environment. Happy Holidays!