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Energy industry is proud of money they’ve spent to “stop” earthquakes…


Earlier this week, the PR wing of The Oklahoman, otherwise known as the paper's Business section, published a glowing advertorial in support of the local energy industry.

The piece, which was written by former (and apparently current) PR flack Adam Wilmoth, highlights and promotes the millions of dollars the kind and generous Oklahoma energy industry has spent trying to stop and prevent the spread of the earthquakes they are causing.


Oil companies in Oklahoma spending millions of dollars to reduce risk of earthquake activity

As part of the effort to understand and reduce the growing earthquake activity throughout much of the state, disposal well operators since March have spent more than $35 million to adjust their wells' depths with the aim of reducing the risk of contributing to earthquake activity.

The actions came after the Oklahoma Corporation Commission three times this year issued new directives, telling operators in certain "areas of interest" to either adjust their disposal well depths or reduce volumes.

"The industry has done a really good job of cooperating and coordinating with the Corporation Commission," Commissioner Dana Murphy said this month at the Tri-State Oil and Gas Convention in Woodward. "You're talking about $150,000 to $250,000 or more for these companies not just to shut down their wells, but to plug them back."

That's neat. Aren't these energy companies swell?! Thanks for being so nice and cooperating with the commission Oklahoma taxpayers created to regulate the industry. Considering energy companies already control state government and can basically do whatever, we really do owe you one. Maybe we can lower the already extremely low tax you all pay to plunder and profit off our state's resources? We'll do anything to help you out.

Seriously, isn't that absurd? They're seeking sympathy for the $35-million they've spent to stop earthquakes that are damaging Oklahomans' homes, businesses, property and general state of mind. Are we supposed to feel sorry for them? Considering how much revenue these companies produce, $35-million seems like a small price to pay.

The article continues:

While the companies may not be eager to spend millions on unexpected work, they understand the changes are necessary, said Kim Hatfield, chairman of the regulatory committee at the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association.

"When your dentist tells you you need a root canal, you may not be happy about it, but you know it's something you need to do," Hatfield said. "If we're cooperating, things get accomplished much more quickly than they might otherwise. We're looking to accomplish the regulatory goals with as little friction and unnecessary cost as possible."

Ah, good old Kim Hatfield. He's the go to source for hypocritical energy industry comments designed to create a false debate regarding the cause of Oklahoma's earthquakes. I'm not too familiar Kim, but I do know:

A) He lives in a big fancy brick house in Heritage Hills that will be turned to rubble if a strong earthquake ever strikes central Oklahoma.

B) He has a long, storied history of questioning science and distancing the industry from the earthquakes they create. For example, this is what he told KFOR in February of this year when the USGS released a study linking earthquakes to wastewater injection wells:

“I don’t think it’s particularly helpful because basically, it says we’ve come to a conclusion, but we don’t have the science to back it up,” Hatfield said. “Oklahoma has been very geologically active over time, and that’s one of the reasons we have so many oil and gas traps.”

While USGS calls for transparency in collecting data, Hatfield says that’s nothing new.

“You know, this is what we’ve been doing for the last year and a half. We were proactive in this. We were the ones who came forward and said ‘Listen, we want to work with the regulators, with the Geological Survey.'”

Yes, the energy industry decided to work with regulators... while trying to distance themselves as the ones responsible for earthquakes. That makes as much sense as looking up your FBI file to see if you're linked to a crime you didn't commit.

This is what Hatfield told CBS News in a similar story from April:

Kim Hatfield, with the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association, says the science to prove a definitive link simply isn't there.

"Coincidence is not correlation," said Hatfield. "This area has been seismically active over eons and the fact that this is unprecedented in our experience doesn't necessarily mean it hasn't happened before."

Ha, even though the general consensus of scientists (who are not employed by energy companies in Oklahoma) is some wastewater injection wells do cause earthquakes, there's no scientific link. It's all just a big coincidence. Nothing to see here. Please move along.

Hatfield eventually changed his tune a few weeks later when even the OGS finally connected earthquakes to fracking. Surprise, surprise, Hatfield did so in another Adam Wilmoth column in The Oklahoman:

Representatives from the state’s oil and natural gas industry downplayed the report Tuesday.

“I don’t see that this is terribly shocking,” said Kim Hatfield, chairman of the regulatory committee at the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association (OIPA). “This is something the Oklahoma Geological Survey, Oklahoma Corporation Commission and OIPA have been working on for well over a year. We knew this was a possibility.”

Hatfield emphasized the cooperation and collaboration between the industry and regulators over the past few years.

“Oklahoma’s oil and natural gas producers have a proven history of developing the state’s oil and natural gas resources in a safe and effective manner. That longstanding commitment to Oklahoma will continue as we work to develop greater understanding of Oklahoma’s seismic events,” he said.

If you're bored, I'd really encourage you to go read, in order, the Adam Wilmoth articles I linked to below. They show how A) the energy industry has been slow to react to the quakes, B) how they've used their friends at "The State's Most Trusted News" to spin a false debate, and instill a sense of doubt into the true cause of the quakes, and C) how they're now taking credit for attempting to fix a problem they not only caused, but categorically denied! It's rich! If you teach a PR or Media Propaganda class at a local university, they'd be required reading.

Questions remain at epicenter of quake trend (9/24/14)

Oklahoma Geological Survey issues strongest statement yet linking quakes to disposal wells (4/21/15)

Oil companies in Oklahoma spending millions of dollars to reduce risk of earthquake activity (8/23/15)

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