Back in November, the Sierra Club announced their intent to sue some prominent energy companies for causing Oklahoman's wild, wacky and totally terrifying earthquake epidemic. You can read our original post about it here. At the time, I joked about the energy industry's refusal to comment about the lawsuit:
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.
Well, I guess local energy company executives actually read this site, because they took my words to heart. Two months after the Sierra Club announced their intent to sue, The Oklahoman "Did The Math" and released a ridiculous editorial that vilified any potential lawsuits and encouraged Oklahomans to actually applaud the efforts that the energy industry and government took to address the quakes. If he hasn't done so already, expect Scott Pruitt to release an Attorney General opinion any day now claiming that oil companies are great, awesome and immune from lawsuits over earthquakes.
It would make sense. Earlier today, the Sierra Club and their friend's at Public Justice finally filed the lawsuit. Here are the details from The Oklahoman:
The Oklahoma Sierra Club and Public Justice filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday against three Oklahoma energy companies, accusing them of using wastewater injection wells that are contributing to the state's sharp rise in earthquake activity.The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Oklahoma City, asks the court to "reduce, immediately and substantially," production waste from Devon Energy Corp., Chesapeake Energy Corp. and New Dominion LLC. It also asks for the companies to "reinforce vulnerable structures" that could be affected by large earthquakes. The groups want an independent earthquake monitoring and prediction center to analyze the wastewater volumes and links to induced seismicity."Based on publicly available data, the conclusion that wastewater injection and the recent spate of earthquakes in Oklahoma and southern Kansas are related is inescapable," the lawsuit said.The lawsuit comes days after a magnitude-5.1 earthquake hit near Fairview on Saturday. The state has recorded more than 120 earthquakes greater than magnitude-3.0 since the beginning of the year, according to the Oklahoma Geological Survey. Eight of those have been above magnitude-4.0."The science laid out in our case is clear," Paul Bland, executive director of Public Justice, said in a news release. "Oklahoma may be on the verge of experiencing a strong and potentially catastrophic earthquake. All evidence points to alarming seismic activity in and around fracking operations, and that activity is becoming more frequent and more severe."
That's exciting news. I know the energy industry is important to our state economy and all that fun Chamber of Commerce spin stuff, but who really cares when you're buried under a pile of rubble or fleeing a Lake Hefner tsunami. Bring on the lawsuits and stop these earthquakes!
You can view the entire lawsuit here. I'd suggest reading it. That way you'll be prepared for The Oklahoman's upcoming editorial that will dismiss the lawsuit as nothing but a desperate attempt by liberal environmentalists to sabotage the oil industry.
Also, I'd like to personally thank the Sierra Club and Public Justice for doing this. Sure, they may have a secret agenda here – politics is politics – but it's nice to see someone finally holding these companies accountable. We know our state leaders sure as Hell won't do it.