Another Ranking: Oklahoma Second In Earthquakes

There’s a lot of snow on the ground today in central Oklahoma, but the earth is still moving and shaking beneath us.

There have been dozens of recorded earthquakes over the last few days here, according to the Oklahoma Geological Survey, including one that registered 3.1 magnitude on the Richter scale.

What seems incredible to me is that Oklahoma is now ranked second in the contiguous United States in the number of earthquakes 3.0 or above magnitude since 2009, according to an EnergyWire story by Mike Soraghan. California is ranked first, of course.

Tornadoes, ice storms, heat waves, blizzards, wildfires, floods and now earthquakes. It’s a bit much even for the most weather-tested Okie.

As I’ve written before, there remains the very real possibility that Oklahoma’s recent earthquake swarm is a manmade phenomenon. Injection disposal wells, used in oil and gas drilling procedures, have been linked to earthquakes here and elsewhere by scientists and researchers. A recent surge in oil and gas production here through hydraulic fracturing or fracking has created a need for more such wells.

But that’s difficult for some Oklahomans to accept, according to Soraghan, who writes:

Linking earthquakes to drilling, though, has been tough to accept for many Oklahomans. While they're not used to earthquakes here, they're quite accustomed to pump jacks and deep injection wells. Oklahoma is dotted with more than 4,500 such wells. Oil and gas is a pillar of the economy and provides a lot of solid paychecks in the state.

Oil and gas production is a major part of the Oklahoma economy, true, but that should never come before the basic welfare and safety of its residents. There has been tepid interest so far among the state’s highest leaders, such as Gov. Mary Fallin, to really launch a major, all-out study of the issue that might lead to new oil and gas drilling regulations.

Unfortunately, it will probably take a major, damaging earthquake to shake the state’s overwhelmingly conservative leaders into action.