Oklahoma’s Sierra Club should be rejoicing that earthquake activity in Oklahoma is down. But, that doesn’t fit their narrative to depict the state and oil companies as not doing enough to address seismicity.
In a recent article in The City Sentinel, the Sierra Club’s Oklahoma lobbyist Johnson Bridgwater laments the fact that a decline in earthquake activity is getting heavy news coverage. He continues to claim the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, which regulates the oil and gas industry, doesn’t have enough resources to address seismicity, yet he neglects to mention that Gov. Mary Fallin approved $1.4 million in emergency funding this year strictly for staff and technology improvements.
According to the Oklahoma Geological Survey, this June had the fewest earthquakes since mid-2014. OGS Director Jeremy Boak said much of the reduction can be credited to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission’s directives.
The OCC and Oklahoma’s oil and natural gas industry have been working together to address the state’s seismicity issues with research based in science and increased data collection. The industry has provided regulators and researchers valuable 3D seismic information to help regulators make better decisions. The industry has supported and complied with significant directives to reduce wastewater volumes by more than 1 million barrels a day.
Whether the Sierra Club wants to admit it or not, these directives are showing positive results, and that should be good news to them. But, don’t expect them to be happy because any news that is beneficial to the oil and gas industry and Oklahoma’s economy threatens their agenda to make it more difficult for Oklahomans to benefit from the state’s oil and natural gas resources.
*Article updated July 9, 2016.
Cindy Allen has worked in oil and gas communications and as an editor and publisher of community newspapers in Oklahoma, Kansas and Arkansas. She serves as a communications consultant for Oklahoma Oil & Gas Association.