Two environmental groups have warned Oklahoma oil and gas companies of their intent to file a federal lawsuit over the links between wastewater disposal wells and the state's sharp rise in earthquake activity.
Washington-based Public Justice and the Oklahoma Sierra Club said they plan to bring a lawsuit under the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, a 1976 law which allows citizen lawsuits over hazardous waste. They want the companies to reduce the volumes of wastewater injected into disposal wells. They also want to establish an "independent forecasting body" that will investigate, analyze and predict the cumulative effect of injecting production wastewater.
More earthquake lawsuits are coming…
3:57 PM EST on November 3, 2015
I never know what photos to use when writing about Oklahoma earthquakes, so I thought it would be fun to go with a pic of Miss Oklahoma in a swimsuit. I guess we'll make it our new earthquake photo theme. Although I don't think she has anything to do with the earthquakes, I would much rather look at her than a crack in some bricks or an oil company executive giving a corporation commissioner a handjob.
Anyway, The Sierra Club and something called "Public Justice" notified a few powerful Oklahoma energy companies yesterday of their plans to file a lawsuit over the man-made earthquake epidemic hitting our state.
Via The Oklahoman's PR department:
The groups sent certified letters last week detailing their intent to SandRidge Energy Inc., Devon Energy Corp., Chesapeake Energy Corp. and New Dominion LLC.
"I am angry and offended that the oil and gas industry has been so slow to protect Oklahoma and its citizens in the face of this earthquake crisis," Barbara Vanhanken, chairwoman of the Oklahoma chapter of the Sierra Club, said in a statement released Monday. "Stopping this ever-strengthening earthquake crisis is critical to the health and well-being of all Oklahomans. To ignore the human cost being paid for the earthquake problems tied to oil and gas operations in Oklahoma is cold-blooded and heartless. It reinforces the concept that profits matter more than people."
Cold blooded and heartless? Reinforces the concept that profits matter more than people? As Chesapeake CEO Doug Lawler would probably ask from his veranda that overlooks Oak Tree, "What's wrong with that? That's how energy companies have operated for 100 years. I drink your milkshake!"
The Oklahoman contacted all the companies above for comment and none of them replied. I really don't blame them. If I was a greedy oil baron, I wouldn't comment either. Instead, I'd stay quiet for a few weeks to let the news pass. Then I'd covertly work with The Oklahoman and Oklahoma Attorney General's Office on a campaign that will try to label and demonize the groups behind the suit as greedy, liberal, big government hacks that will stop at nothing to protect and promote their own self interests over that of people. Basically, I'd try to get everyone to think that these environmental groups operate like oil companies.
Actually, the energy industry is already taking this approach. Check out this quote about the lawsuit they gave to The Oklahoman:
Energy group responds
Chad Warmington, president of the Oklahoma Oil and Gas Association, said the environmental groups were attempting to use federal law to undermine the work of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission.
"This is nothing more than business as usual for these groups in their attempts to completely destroy the production of oil and natural gas in the United States," Warmington said in an email. "Their threatened lawsuit is completely unnecessary and unwarranted."
Warmington pointed to a three-hour hearing on induced seismicity last week at the Capitol that included presentations from the Oklahoma Geological Survey, Corporation Commissioner Dana Murphy and the Oklahoma Energy Resources Board.
"The actions taken by the commission have been strong, decisive and based on good science," he said. "Any outside group that claims otherwise is either ill-informed or willfully deceitful. The Corporation Commission has this under control and does not need the federal government interfering in their processes."
Yes, don't worry everyone, the Corporation Commission – a group of three elected officials who actively accept campaign donations from the same Oklahoma energy companies listed in the lawsuit – is on top of the situation. They're working with the Oklahoma Energy Resources Board and the Oklahoma Geological Society – a group that apparently answers to David Boren and Harold Hamm – to come up with a practical solution that puts the safety and well-being of the Oklahoma people ahead of energy industry profits.
Seriously, what a joke. Just check out this 2014 article from The Tulsa World:
Larry Nichols and Devon’s PAC doled out about $630,000 in campaign contributions to individual state campaign funds since 2006, and the company gave $85,000 directly to special causes, including the Speaker’s Ball and a state question campaign fund.
The state’s three corporation commissioners also received maximum donations from Nichols or his company’s PAC, the World’s analysis shows. The commission regulates utilities and the oil and gas industry.
Devon’s PAC contributed $5,000 to Commissioner Patrice Douglas’ campaign fund in 2012 even though she had no opponent.
Commissioner Bob Anthony’s campaign fund received the maximum allowed by law from Nichols and Devon’s PAC, while Commissioner Dana Murphy’s campaign received a total of $7,500 from both, records show.
Yeah, we're screwed.
Anyway, I wish the Sierra Club and Public Justice the best of luck with their lawsuit. Hopefully it brings along meaningful change that will solve this earthquake crisis. There's only a limited supply of Miss Oklahoma swimsuit pics on the Internet. We don't want to run out.
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