Of course, the company that’s causing earthquakes is the same one that pitched goofy earthquake theories to News 9…
3:04 PM EDT on July 7, 2014
Last week, researchers from Cornell University and the University of Colorado released a study confirming what logic and reason have told us for the past few years: Oklahoma's earthquakes are caused by fracking, or more specifically, wastewater from fracking.
The report made national news. Here's a snippet from an L.A. Times article by Hailey Branson-Potts.
Oklahoma has seen a boom in two things in recent years: oil and gas production and earthquakes.
To many residents, the timing says it all. Before the oil and gas industry started drilling so many underground injection wells, they say, it was rare to feel an earthquake. Today, Oklahoma is the second-most seismically active state in the continental United States, behind California.
Now they have some fresh scientific evidence to back up their observations. Researchers from Cornell University and the University of Colorado say a large swarm of earthquakes in central Oklahoma was probably caused by activity at a few highly active disposal wells, where wastewater from drilling operations — including hydraulic fracturing — is forced into deep geological formations for storage.
Four high-rate disposal wells in southeast Oklahoma City probably induced a group of earthquakes known as the Jones swarm, which accounted for 20% of the seismicity in the central and eastern United States between 2008 and 2013, the team reported Thursday in the journal Science.
If I could hop in time machine and go back five years to tell Hailey Branson-Potts – an Oklahoma native, OU journalism grad and Gary England fan – that she'd have a job writing about Oklahoma earthquakes for the L.A. Times, she probably would have said "Yeah right... and Wayne Coyne will have a tattoo of Hannah Montana's dead dog on his chest." Seriously, you win again, irony. When Hailey covers a nasty L.A. tornado outbreak this fall, we'll know something's up.
Of course, energy companies are hard at work protecting their interests and cautioning a rush to judgment and / or the truth. The company that operates the four high-volume earthquake-causing disposal wells in southeast Oklahoma City has already attempted to discredit the report.
From a story in Fortune:
The company that owns the wells, Tulsa-based New Dominion, says in a statement it operates its wells saltwater disposal wells in southeast Oklahoma City safely, within permitted parameters and is fully cooperating with the Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC), the Oklahoma Geological Survey and other state regulators.
Breathe easy, people who work in Bricktown, drive on the Centennial Parkway Bridge during rush hour or live in a totally stable and earthquake proof Oklahoma City home. New Dominion Energy is operating their wells safely and within parameters. They are also cooperating with the Corporation Commission, OGS and other state regulators. You know, those fiercely independent groups of people that are in no way controlled or influenced by the lobbying power of the energy industry. Everything is fine.
In addition to that, the peer reviewed study that was published in a legitimate journal by researchers from two respected universities is total bullshit:
“While New Dominion has not had adequate time to thoroughly review the paper, an initial review reflects it is premised on certain false assumptions,” the company said in a statement in response to the study, calling the results “at best…irresponsible” and noting that the author “did not consult with NDL’s geologist and engineers to determine whether her premises are in any way correct.”
Yes, New Dominion Energy, a company that profits from injecting billions of gallons of poisonous water deep beneath the surface of the planet, thinks the results are "at best... irresponsible." That's kind of funny and hypocritical when you consider New Dominion's Vice President of Exploration, Jean J. Antonides, is the same guy who pitched a ludicrous earthquake theory to News 9 earlier this year:
One researcher, a Tulsa geologist, is now suggesting something else may be at work -- the weather and aquifers.
"Where these quakes have occurred," explained Jean Antonides, "they all have occurred around these aquifers."
Aquifers are essentially underground reservoirs -- a body of permeable rock, through which water can pass easily. There are many in Oklahoma, and the amount of water they contain can be affected by both weather and human activity.
Antonides says his research shows that aquifers near the location of certain earthquakes had been depleted, through both drought and increased human demand, and then suddenly refilled, through intense and heavy rains.
"When you have rainfall amounts of six inches over a few day period," Antonides pointed out, "these rainfalls cover a thousand square miles -- that's a lot of weight."
That much new weight – potentially trillions of tons -- if it's along or across a fault, can be enough to cause an earthquake.
"If you change the weight, relative near surface, across that fault -- either reducing the weight on one side, loading up the other side or vice versa," Antonides explained, "that could be the trigger point."...
Antonides does work for an oil and gas company -- New Dominion -- but says his theory is based on real science and real data.
So, peer-reviewed study published in scientific journal? Irresponsible. Local TV news channel reporting on crazy, non-peer reviewed, theory drawn up by wealthy VP for energy company that blamed aquifers for sudden, unprecedented surge in earthquakes? Responsible.
I hate to say this, but I'm not pretty sure we're all screwed. The energy industry essentially runs this state and controls the local media. If they don't want injection wells to be the cause of earthquakes, injection wells will not be the cause of the earthquakes. They'll make sure to buy enough politicians and release enough "new theories" to our media to ensure that doesn't happen, and in the process, turn the topic into a static, wedge issue debate like global warming. It makes me want to move to a safer place before the big one hits. Maybe Hailey Branson-Potts needs a roommate.