This is a blog of populist and liberal information and ideas, advancing the cause of truth and justice while fighting the ugly tyranny of right-wing oppression in Oklahoma and its surrounding environs.

The Donald Goes To The Oklahoma State Fair

Image of Picasso's Guernica

I don’t get all the love here for The Donald.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump spoke to a huge, mostly adoring crowd Friday at the Oklahoma State Fair, and a state poll shows potential GOP voters here clearly favor him over his rivals.

We should probably assume that the state is going to go clearly Republican in the 2016 election, but besides Trump’s “build-a-wall” mentality when it comes to the Mexican border, I don’t see much for Oklahoma Republicans to like in his candidacy given their own special brand of conservatism.

The blunt-speaking Trump is no social conservative, for example, or right-wing religious fundamentalist, and he’s already talking about raising taxes on the rich if he’s elected. Don't Republicans here hate ALL taxes?

Still, there they were Friday night, the conservatives, running all over themselves trying get a photograph with him, trying to see him in person as if they haven’t seen enough of him through the years on The Celebrity Apprentice. News 9 covered the spectacle live.

Make no mistake that Trump does have a certain populist appeal on a few issues and can deliver an entertaining speech, but he still doesn’t seem like he would be an appealing candidate for Okies or Texans for that matter. Perhaps, he’s simply the Republican du jour right now.

Trump’s stump speech, which I endured for as long as I could watch it on television Friday, seems to pretty much center on how the United States is getting taken for a ride by every other country in the world and that he’ll make the country great again.

The City Upon A Hill rhetoric has always been a simplistic trope of global politics uttered by Republicans and Democrats alike, but Trump takes it to a new level. Trump even criticized Germany for currently taking advantage of us somehow in his Friday speech as if our military bases around the world haven’t been also dictated by our own aggressive defense posture. Last I checked, the U.S. was clearly aligned with most western European countries, including Germany, and it should remain that way.

Do we really want someone like Trump overseeing our international policy?

I guess Trump taps into the displaced anger of Oklahoma voters who have clearly voted against their economic interests in recent years and joined with the corporate media here in a seven-year President Barack Obama-hate fest, but let’s be clear that the billionaire Trump has very little in common with the vast majority of Okies.

Trump lives a life of tremendous privilege unlike most ordinary Oklahomans. He has nothing to be angry about. His anger, of course, is only play-acting, much like the acting he did on the television show he formerly hosted. I’m sure he’s getting a kick out of all the attention he’s receiving, and I even find myself laughing in agreement sometimes at Trump’s faux outrage against the media. I like a good joke just like anyone else, but I hope even Trump recognizes the danger in his polemic vision of the U.S. and the rest of the world.

Shake It Up To Stop The Shaking

Image of Oklahoma State Capitol

(I only have time for a short post today. Once again I raise the issue of our earthquake emergency following the 4.0-magnitude quake around Cushing in Payne County last night. It’s long past time for all Oklahomans to pay serious attention to this issue.—Kurt Hochenauer)

Here come those fracking-induced earthquakes day after day, and the worst is probably yet to come, according to some experts.

I sense there’s a very real but silent majority of Oklahomans who are extremely concerned about their personal safety and property because of all the shaking. But will it take a major earthquake disaster to motivate people to take action?

Two earthquakes—one registering at a 4.0-magnitude—rattled Payne County Thursday night and apparently led to power outages, according to news reports. This is the new reality for Oklahoma, an almost everyday occurrence, and our state leaders, such as Gov. Mary Fallin, Attorney General Scott Pruitt and the members of the Corporation Commission are not doing enough to address the problem.

Let’s face it: Oklahoma has always been a somewhat scary place to live because of deadly tornadoes, but now it’s become even more terrifying with all the earthquakes. Scientists are predicting it’s only a matter of time before a major quake hits. Are you ready? Will we even be able to live in this place soon?

So, once again, here’s what is happening for anyone still not paying attention:

Oklahoma is in the midst of a hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, boom. In the fracking process, water laced with toxic chemicals is injected into underground rock formations to create fissures that release fossil fuels, such as natural gas. The leftover toxic wastewater is then injected underground into what are called disposal wells or injection wells. Scientists and geologists throughout the world agree that the injection well process triggers earthquakes along fault lines. Oklahoma now leads the contiguous United States in the number of earthquakes registering 3.0-magnitude or higher. The state will probably experience a staggering 900 or more such earthquakes this year. That’s not to mention the literally thousands of other small earthquakes caused by the fracking process that we don’t necessarily feel on a daily basis.

It’s a real emergency. Our state leaders, as I mentioned, are not doing much of anything to stop it. That’s most likely because of the powerful oil and gas political lobby here. I think, as Oklahomans, we all GET the importance of the oil and gas industry here, but that doesn’t mean it should be allowed to damage our homes and property or place us at major risk for bodily harm.

Oil and gas companies should and eventually will be held liable for the damage they are inflicting on our state.

People need to get involved with this issue before it’s too late. There’s no way to be overly hyperbolic about this issue. Here’s a good place to start if you want to stop shaking.

Will Fracking Make Central Oklahoma Unsustainable?

Image of wind turbines that don’t cause earthquakes

I missed earlier news reports about a geologist who has concluded the Stillwater area and much of central Oklahoma may well become a dangerous “epicenter” of earthquake activity because of the injection well process used in the hydraulic fracturing process.

Chris Hartnady, who is a South African geologist, gave a presentation in Stillwater last March, which raised the possibility that an area around Stillwater, Guthrie and Langston could experience 5.0-magnitude earthquakes or higher on a weekly basis starting soon.

Writing in Oklahoma State University’s newspaper the O’Colly, Will Tracy points out this about Hartnady’s study:

The area of risk is positioned near Guthrie, Langston and Stillwater, according to the study. The distribution of recent epicenters reveals possible hidden faults, which may be oriented for re-activation, and earthquakes greater than magnitude 5 could shake the region on a weekly basis by the end of 2015, according to the study.

Note the term “weekly basis.” This is a disturbing and frightening possibility.

Certainly, Hartnady’s projections make sense for everyone currently living in central Oklahoma, which gets rattled almost daily by earthquakes. The area that would be affected by regular or weekly 5.0-magnitude earthquakes would also include Edmond and Oklahoma City.

The bottom line is that such regular seismic activity at that level could well make central Oklahoma an unsustainable place to live and work. Hartnady concedes his study is speculative, according to reports, but he wants people to be prepared for the worst-case scenario.

What if we simply can’t live in central Oklahoma anymore because of fracking? What will happen to our homes and other property? Where will we work? Where will we go?

Given the alarming statistics, these are not unreasonable questions. Oklahoma has gone from experiencing one or two small earthquakes per year to more than 2,000 so far this year. There have been two earthquakes of greater than 4.0-magnitude in Stillwater this last week alone. We now lead the contiguous United States in the number of 3.0-magnitude earthquakes or higher. We’re on target to have more than 900 earthquakes of 3.0-magnitude or higher this year. It’s not unusual to have 4.0-magnitude or higher earthquakes here. In 2011, a 5.7-magnitude struck near Prague.

Scientists agree that the injection well process used in the hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, process is the reason for the dramatic surge in seismic activity.

In the fracking process, water laced with toxic chemicals is injected underground to create fissures in rock formations that release fossil fuels, such as natural gas. The wastewater is then injected by high pressure into underground rock formations in what are called injection wells or disposal wells. Scientists agree that it’s this element of fracking that is triggering seismic activity among fault lines.

The fracking boom may well have given America energy independence, but it has also put many of us in danger. Oklahoma leaders have been slow to act and probably won’t ever do anything substantial because of the political influence of the oil and gas industry. Industry officials initially denied the earthquakes were linked to injection wells and are now obfuscating over the issue.

Pretty much, Oklahomans are on their own without help from their elected officials in the disaster that looms.

What’s even more frightening is that shutting down injection wells might not even solve the problem, as one geologist has noted. Two injection wells near Cushing were shut down recently after earthquakes, but will that fix the problem?

Syndicate content