Two Democrats Call For Hearing On Link Between Earthquakes, Injection Wells

At least some national politicians seem worried about the link between earthquakes and oil and gas drilling activities here in Oklahoma. Too bad it’s no one actually from our state itself.

U.S. Reps. Peter DeFazio of Oregon and Henry Waxman of California this week called for a federal hearing on “the issue of induced seismicity from wastewater injection wells.” Those wells, which are used in hydraulic fracturing or fracking and in traditional drilling, have been linked to earthquakes by scientists here and elsewhere.

Oklahoma has experienced a recent swarm of earthquakes. A 4.5 magnitude earthquake hit just north of Edmond recently, and a 5.7 magnitude earthquake near Prague in 2011 caused extensive damage. Many Oklahomans, according to various news reports in recent months, remain anxious that a major earthquake could soon hit.

DeFazio is the ranking Democrat on the Natural Resources Committee. Waxman is the top Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee. In a letter dated Dec. 18, they asked the chairs of the two committees to hold a joint hearing on the issue.

In their letter, DeFazio and Waxman reference the 5.7 earthquake near Prague and recent comments by the Oklahoma Geological Survey and the U.S. Geological Survey that recent earthquakes here could be linked to the wastewater injection wells.

The New York Times also recently published an article about the issue.

The oil and gas industry here is an important part of the economy, and it obviously influences the political landscape, but the basic safety of Oklahoma’s residents should supersede the profit margins of energy companies. Members of our all-Republican Congressional delegation should be just as worried about the earthquake issue as politicians from Oregon and California.