A reporter for the television show 60 Minutes did a segment Sunday on Oklahoma’s earthquake crisis, shedding more light on a serious issue that needs to be resolved by state leaders.
What’s important to note before I discuss the segment is this: The earthquakes continue here in Oklahoma because of disposal well activity used in the hydraulic fracturing or fracking process. In fact, there were two larger earthquakes in the state on the day the segment appeared on our television screens. A 3.6-magnitude earthquake struck a few miles west of Perry at 4:19 p.m followed by a 3.4-magnitude in the same area at 7:10 p.m.
The 60 Minutes segment was reported by Bill Whitaker, who did an excellent job just initially pointing out the huge increase in earthquakes here. (The following quote and other quotes from the segment used in this post are from the transcript of the show.) “Before 2009, there were, on average, two earthquakes a year in Oklahoma that were magnitude 3 or greater,” Whitaker reported. “Last year, there were 907. That's right, 907.” I think the “that’s right, 907” set the tone for the segment.
I also thought Whitaker did a great job interviewing Kim Hatfield, who is on the executive committee of the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association. Hatfield tried to downplay the role of disposal wells in the crisis. “This is something that's been going on for 60, 70 years,” Hatfield said. “And we've had-- had a sudden change. And the question is what changed.” Whitaker’s response to Hatfield was short and to the point:
The thing that's different is the amount of water that the oil industry is pumping into the Arbuckle Formation. That's what's different. And along with that difference comes these earthquakes. That's not the trigger?
Hatfield’s response should elicit groans from anyone who has felt a larger earthquake here or experienced damage to their property because of the shaking. “The injection of water is a factor,” Hatfield said. “But it is not possibly the only factor. We don't know.”
(Click "Read more" to continue reading.)