Feds Recommend Limited Disposal Well Moratorium

The federal government has recommended Oklahoma issue a moratorium on oil and gas disposal wells in the state’s most seismically active areas, but it’s unlikely the state will act on it.

Local media outlets in the last few days have reported on an Energy Wire story written by Mike Soraghan that contains information obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The story notes that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in an annual review, recommended the Oklahoma Corporation Commission consider the moratorium. Many environmental advocates for years have called for complete or limited moratoriums on disposal wells, which scientists confirmed are triggering earthquakes along Oklahoma’s previously dormant fault lines. The moratorium for now, according to media reports, is recommended essentially for north-central and northwest Oklahoma. For the record, I’ve been among those calling for a complete moratorium.

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a process in which water laced with toxic chemicals is injected underground in rock formations to create fissures that then release oil and gas. The water is later injected by high pressure underground into what are known as wastewater injection or disposal wells, which have made Oklahoma one of the most seismically active places on the planet, according to scientists and data.

It’s important to note that the massive amount of water needed in fracking operations requires injection wells. Some industry officials have discussed recycling the water, but disposal wells are the most cost-effective way to deal with the water at this time. The point is that fracking here in Oklahoma can’t exist without injection wells. It’s all about fracking.

Although regulators are quick to point out that the overall number of earthquakes has dropped in Oklahoma since 2015, they often fail to mention the decline may be due to diminished drilling and the diminished need for disposal wells because of low oil prices. Oklahoma also recently experienced its largest recorded earthquake—a 5.8-magnitude quake near Pawnee—on Sept. 3. That earthquake was felt by millions of people in Oklahoma and surrounding states.

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Trump Comments Totally Unacceptable Says Fallin

I think it’s worth noting that Oklahoma’s most well-known supporter of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump—Gov. Mary Fallin—didn’t say anything publicly about his latest controversy until right before Sunday’s debate.

Trump, as we all know, was caught on a tape recorded some 11 years ago making vulgar and bragging comments about sexually assaulting women. The tape became public last week, prompting even more prominent Republican leaders to withdraw their support from the candidate who heads the GOP ticket going into the Nov. 8 general election.

Here’s part of Fallin’s statement, according to a Sunday media report:

Both of our nation's presidential candidates are very flawed and have made mistakes. I am disappointed and offended by the comments made by Mr. Trump 11 years ago. His comments about women were totally unacceptable. I hope he uses this debate to show his sincerity with his earlier apology and takes the opportunity to demonstrate he has the character and leadership skills to be president. In the end, I trust the American people to make the right decision. America is still the greatest nation in the world.

Well, Trump had no apologies Sunday night in the presidential debate. He does not apologize in any real sense in terms of personal awareness for anything, ever. That’s how fascism works. Dictators always lie.

As more and more people all across the political spectrum express their outrage over Trump’s remarks, many of his longtime detractors are grateful and some maybe with too much of “it’s-about-time” attitude. Trump’s outrageous comments and sordid conduct have been on display for years, of course, but partisan politics creates strange unities and myopic thinking.

Stopping Trump from becoming president is too important to waste time on “told-you-so” jubilation. This is a genuinely serious time in our country’s history. On Sunday night, Trump actually promised to put his opponent Hillary Clinton in jail if he’s elected president. The dictator lies and jails people. Again, that’s fascism.

Fallin’s silence for so long on the issue was deafening. She had been an unquestioning Trump supporter for months and she was supposedly even considered by the Trump camp for the Republican vice presidential slot. More importantly, she’s Oklahoma first female governor, and although she had no duty or mandate to speak for all women here, her take on Trump’s comments will be widely shared in a state not known for treating women very well.

The Oklahoma Republican Party has indicated it continues to endorse Trump even though its communications director has resigned after its chair declined to issue a statement withdrawing the organization’s support for Trump.

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Is Lankford Genuine On Racial Healing?

Image of James Lankford

I continue to think that U.S. Sen. James Lankford is just the wrong person at the wrong time to address racial reconciliation in the country despite the good press he’s generating locally on the issue.

The Oklahoman, for example, recently published an article on NewsOK.com about Lankford under this headline: “U.S Sen. James Lankford has made racial healing a focus.” I’ve also written about Lankford and his somewhat simplistic call for people of different ethnicities to have a meal together here.

I really can’t judge Lankford’s sincerity on this issue. Who really can? The right-winger claims to be in touch with people by telephone in Oklahoma who are involved in protesting police brutality against black people and he’s in complete denial about the high incarceration rates of African Americans, but mainly he’s just extremely vague on details and he’s not showing up at marches and rallies where real racial healing is trying to assert itself these days on the streets.

According to The Oklahoman article, this is some of what Lankford said about the recent death of 40-year-old Terence Crutcher, who is black. Crutcher was shot to death by a white Tulsa police officer after he held up his hands in a gesture of surrender:

I've made several calls there. My staff has been engaged. We're just trying to stay connected to the community to hear what they think, feel, hear — what information they're getting and not getting. These are not just constituents; these are friends, and many of them are connected directly with that family.

Note the lack of specifics. I don’t think you can just “call in” racial healing, not that Lankford’s overall concern is not genuine.

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