Oklahoma Environmentalists: Planning Rally Against Disposal Wells

An environmental group is planning a rally at the Oklahoma state capital to ask for a moratorium on disposal wells in the state. The Coalition to Stop Induced Seismicity is afraid state regulators are not doing enough to curb the risk of oil and natural gas activity during this outbreak of earthquakes in the state. Earl Hatley said, “Industry voices are what’s being heard, but the voices of the people are not being heard.” The group is looking for the state to establish a one to two year moratorium on waste water disposal wells in the entire state of Oklahoma. It should be noted that most of the earthquakes Oklahoma has endured are located in a generally small geographic area in north central Oklahoma.
Oil and natural gas leaders in the state say that an immediate reply from the state would be unlikely, even if there was evidence to connect the sudden increase in earthquakes to oil and natural gas activity. The loss of the state economy would be devastating. The lost state tax revenue would be over one billion dollars.
Kim Hatfield, OIPA’s (Oklahoma Independent Producers Association) Regulatory Committee Chairman said that, “It’s a very difficult situation. I understand the concern, but a panicked reaction is seldom the most constructive.”
Disposal WellsHow many earthquakes is Oklahoma actually seeing?
Earthquakes over 3.0 magnitude:
2014: 585
2013: 109
2008-2012: Averaged 40 a year over this period.
Studies by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and oil and gas producers have shown some possible links to earthquakes and wastewater injection wells. Both researchers and state regulators have been paying close attention to high volume disposal wells that are drilled below some of the deepest layers of sedimentary rock. While many of the newer injection wells handle more volume and operate at higher pressure it should be noted that Oklahoma’s oil and gas industry has been pumping wastewater deep into the ground for over 70 years.
The Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC) is dedicated to find a solution that makes sense. They have implemented new rules that require better monitoring of pressures, temperature and flow to help them understand the science behind this earthquake outbreak.