Earthquakes? What Earthquakes?

An editorial published yesterday in The Oklahoman lauding the oil and gas industry failed to mention the state’s major earthquake crisis and even credited the industry with waging a fight against global warming, which the newspaper hasn’t even really supported as a concept through the years.

The editorial, "Oklahoma energy industry remains an economic cornerstone,” is pure spin. It’s a lie in so many different ways. It’s as if it was written by industry officials themselves, which it was in a way, because it mainly cites a report by the American Petroleum Institute, hardly a neutral source.

That the energy sector is important to Oklahoma is obvious. So that’s not a lie. What’s not so obvious in the rosy assessment by The Oklahoman of that well accepted fact is that the state’s financial welfare is overly tied to the sector and that the state has failed to really diversify its economy. It’s a major problem here, and it has been for decades.

All these earthquakes here—from the 5.8-magnitude Saturday, largest in Oklahoma recorded history, to the smaller ones that strike on a daily basis—have brought the failure of economic diversification to a crisis, a point the editorial doesn’t make.

What happens when the actions of a state’s “cornerstone” industry cause massive property damage resulting in lawsuits and most likely even more lawsuits in the future? These are lawsuits that could stop hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, here altogether.

Here’s a counter argument or at least a different frame on the issue: A report by the American Petroleum Institute shows, again, how the state needs to find different ways beyond oil and gas to save the economy and to keep Oklahoma viable.

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Large Quake Rattles Nerves, Shakes Up New PR Narrative

On Aug. 16, The Oklahoman editorial board published an in-house commentary, which carried the headline, “Oklahoma on the right course in addressing earthquakes.”

On Saturday, Sept. 3, around 7 a.m., a terrifyingly long manmade 5.6-magnitude earthquake centered near Pawnee rattled this state and neighboring states even though oil and gas industry puppets like the great minds at The Oklahoman had declared the quake crisis all but solved. The earthquake caused one injury and widespread damage throughout the state.

Saturday’s morning earthquake should be considered yet another wake-up call to Oklahomans. If they don’t get it now, they’re never going to get it. The quake was the same size of a temblor that hit near Prague in 2011, but to me it felt longer and more powerful.

Oklahomans need to “get” that state officials, such as Gov. Mary Fallin and the Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC), the oil and gas industry and the corporate media here are not going to do what is obviously necessary to stop what’s causing the earthquakes.

Even the OCC’s decision to order the shut down of a broad swath of injection wells after the earthquake is not enough.

Despite its obvious dire economic consequences for this place, the state and the oil and gas industry needs to eventually shut down every injection well in the state. The corporate media, forever wrong on this issue, needs to step up and call for that action. No more injection wells in Oklahoma.

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More Diversity Needed On State Justice Reform Task Force

The membership of Gov. Mary Fallin’s new task force to study justice reform lacks diversity.

The 17-member board doesn’t include one person of color, according to state Rep. George Young, an Oklahoma City Democrat. In a statement that appeared on the local Facebook page of the Showing Up for Racial Justice organization, Young made these points:

I am disappointed in our Governor’s inability to find and appoint someone of color to her Justice Reform Task Force. This is important to the welfare of our state and our citizens. Once again citizens of color are reminded of the statistics concerning our incarceration rates, but are denied a seat at the table, which could help in understanding and providing leadership in improving our criminal justice system. Thank you, Governor, for appointing 17 qualified individuals without finding one of color.

Here’s a local news story that lists the members of the task force, which mostly include public officials, including former House Speaker Kris Steele, a strong advocate for social justice reform. The task force also includes the presidents of the Oklahoma City and Tulsa chambers of commerce.

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