Stillwater News Press

Opinion

March 18, 2014

OUR VIEW: Earthquake study is needed in OK

Oklahoma seems to be on shaky ground these days. Several minor earthquakes have rattled windows, knocked pictures off walls and startled people in the last several months.

Speculation continues as to why the state is experiencing an increase in seismic activity. Most popular among the speculation is hydraulic fracturing and injection drilling by oil and natural gas producers.

It seems logical that disturbing sediments deep under the surface would cause a shift in the earth — earthquakes. But some have speculated the increase in quakes is due to changing lake levels and pre-existing faults that have become more active.

Geophysicist William Ellsworth, the lead author of a 2013 study on the quakes, found that high water pressure used in wastewater injections could disturb existing faults. Ellsworth wrote the earthquakes are “almost certainly manmade.”

Many are calling for a ban on fracking and injection drilling, or at least a temporary halt.

Gov. Mary Fallin is taking a reasoned, sensible approach to discover why the state is having more earthquakes. The governor wants to tap the experience of experts from the Oklahoma Geological Survey and energy producers in the state. Knee-jerk reactions based on speculation do not get us any closer to a real answer and solution to the increased incidence of earthquakes. Fallin wants to collect data from people who intimately understand the issue before making an executive decision.

That’s a prudent approach that will lead to a better understanding of what is causing the quakes and what to do about.

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