Stillwater News Press

Letters to the Editor

April 21, 2014

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Duck and cover in Payne County

STILLWATER, Okla. — Dana Lawrence

Stillwater

To the editor:

According to Rob Hill, Emergency Management Technician for the city of Stillwater, “Over the past several months it has become very evident that the ground below us is moving.”  

The EOC issued a statement on the city of Stillwater’s website dated March 14, 2014, acknowledging the fact that it has been receiving numerous emails and phone calls from residents about increasing earthquake activity. Fracking is listed as a “possible” reason for the increased seismic activity.

Residents all over rural Payne County and even on the outskirts of town, within city limits, have been subjected to all the activities that go along with fracking; underground demolitions, cutting down huge swaths of trees through the countryside and, in general, the industrialization of rural land for purposes of oil and gas exploration.

Many have received letters which request their permission to explore property, with the added information that refusing permission will not prevent them from doing so, since mineral rights take precedence over surface rights.

In other words, the oil and gas companies represent a juggernaut, exerting a destructive and unstoppable force against rural property owners and wildlife in Payne County.  It should also be noted that the Chinese energy company, Sinopec, has a one-third interest in 215,000 acres in Oklahoma in a $2.5 billion dollar partnership with Devon Energy and that these companies are exempt from the Clean Water Act. I have also been told by a pipeline employee that they expect to be working in Payne County for the next 10 years. I wonder what our countryside will look like 10 years from now.

I contacted the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife and asked whether anyone at the agency was conducting a study on the impact of fracking in Oklahoma on wildlife. The answer was no. Apparently, their primary mission is to process fishing licenses.

If an earthquake does strike, the Stillwater EOC recommends 1) Drop down on your hands and knees, 2) Cover your head and neck, and 3) Hold on to your shelter.  

County Commissioner Chris Reding has advised residents to buy earthquake insurance and “batten down hot water tanks and other items that break loose, as they do in California.”

Since control over the oil and gas industry lies with the legislature and the Corporation Commission and our local officials have explained they are helpless, I believe the residents of Payne County should be taking their concerns to the State Capitol. In terms of the overall impact on residents of Payne County, “Duck and Cover” is going to be as effective now as it would have been against a nuclear attack during the Cold War.

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