“Fracking And Earthquakes In Middle America”

Host Tom Ashbrook interviewed seismologist Katie Kernan, New Yorker writer Rivka Galchen, who just wrote piece on the quake phenomenon, AJ Ferate of the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association, and Angela Spots of Stop Fracking Payne County.

Fracking And Earthquakes In Middle America The earthquakes of Oklahoma. There’s a sharp increase. Big oil, lots of water, pressure, fracking. We’ll look at what lies beneath. Until 2008, the state of Oklahoma averaged one or two earthquakes magnitude 3.0 or greater a year. Then the lid blew off those numbers.

Read more at: onpoint.wbur.org

Oil Billionaire Sought Meeting With OU President Boren on Oklahoma Quake Research as Far Back as 2011

The November 2013 meeting with University of Oklahoma President David Boren wasn’t oil billionaire Harold Hamm’s first attempt to discuss with university officials and a state seismologists Oklahoma’s earthquake surge and possible links to oil and gas activity, a new EnergyWire story reveals.

Using emails (click here for a .PDF) obtained through the Oklahoma Open Records Act, Mike Sorgahan reports that Continental Resources founder Hamm “sought as far back as 2011 to manage Oklahoma’s state-funded research into the links among hydraulic fracturing, oil production and earthquakes”:

Hamm sought a meeting with University of Oklahoma President David Boren in September 2011 after state seismologist Austin Holland, a university employee, wrote a report linking small earthquakes in south-central Oklahoma to fracking. According to emails obtained by EnergyWire through open records requests, Hamm wanted to discuss how Holland’s research on fracking might be perceived by the public. Continue Reading

In Southwest Oklahoma, a Farmer Harvests the Wind and Watches the State Capitol

Bob Kerr on his ranch near Carnegie, Okla., which is flanked by turbines from the Blue Canyon Wind Farm.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Bob Kerr on his ranch near Carnegie, Okla., which is flanked by turbines from the Blue Canyon Wind Farm.

Lawmakers have filed several measures targeting Oklahoma’s wind industry during the 2015 legislative session. The bills most likely to end up on the governor’s desk add regulation — like preventing new wind farms from being built near hospitals, schools and airports — and reduce wind energy tax credits.

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State Revenue Will Fall by ‘Dust Bowl Proportions’ if Local Ordinances Governing Drilling Aren’t Curbed, Lawmaker Says

The bill was among three “intended to protect oil and gas interests advanced by the committee on Tuesday,” the World’s Randy Krehbiel reports.

State revenue will fall by “Dust Bowl proportions” unless local ordinances governing oil and gas drilling are curbed, the chairman of a key House committee said Tuesday. When Rep. Cory Williams, D-Stillwater, protested that the bill would repeal a local ordinance provision in place since at least 1935, Calvey said: “You hear a lot about local control. It’s used as kind of a shibboleth around here. Folks, I believe in states’ rights, not some amorphous local control.”

Read more at: www.tulsaworld.com

“The Arrival of Man-Made Earthquakes”

Rivka Galchen’s New Yorker piece on Oklahoma’s earthquake surge highlights the challenges surrounding scientists, regulators, politicians and residents in a state where “oil money is both invisible and pervasive.”

Chance is important to the oil and gas industry, which retains something of the luck-culture mythos of its earliest days. Companies are usually called “players,” and they “win” or “are awarded” contracts; the areas they explore are “plays.” Once, there was a fair amount of chance involved in striking oil. Stories of poor people coming across “gushers” on their property, or of discovering unknown inheritances of mineral rights, are emotionally important, and widely shared, in Oklahoma. And the tradition of Okie endurance—of uncomplainingly handling dust storms, tornadoes, poor soil, economic depressions—heightens the sense that Lady Fortune spins you up, spins you down. Maybe it’s not surprising that Oklahoma’s earthquakes have been in large part treated as simply one more hardship to withstand, a matter of bad luck following good.

Read more at: www.newyorker.com

“As Quakes Rattle Oklahoma, Fingers Point to Oil and Gas Industry”

In-depth NYT piece by Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Michael Wines on Oklahoma’s earthquake surge, and the entangled politics and regulatory hurdles caused by the shaking’s links to the oil and gas industry.

But in a state where oil and gas are economic pillars, elected leaders have been slow to address the problem. And while regulators have taken some protective measures, they lack the money, work force and legal authority to fully address the threats. More than five years after the quakes began a sharp and steady increase, the strongest action by the Republican governor, Mary Fallin, has been to name a council to exchange information about the tremors. The group meets in secret, and has no mandate to issue recommendations.

Read more at: www.nytimes.com

Stillwater Officials: Oil Lobbyists Warned of Legislation if Vote on Drilling Ordinance Wasn’t Delayed

A flare glows in the background on an unconventional well pad, releasing pressure from a fracked well in Payne County, Okla.

jbpribanic / Public Herald

A flare glows in the background on an unconventional well pad, releasing pressure from a fracked well in Payne County, Okla.

Officials in at least two cities have publicly questioned bills filed during the 2015 legislative session that would limit the local governments’ authority to regulate oil and gas activity.

The bills’ authors say the measures are meant to prevent towns, cities and counties from banning or effectively banning oil and gas drilling and related production activities, like hydraulic fracturing. Officials in Norman and Stillwater, for their part, say the legislation is an overreach that could limit their ability to write ordinances to protect the health and safety of local residents.

Stillwater has been considering stricter oil and gas ordinances, including 1,000-foot setbacks and limits on things like noise, traffic, gas flares, lights and dust. Two Stillwater city councilors say oil industry representatives told them to delay their vote on the ordinance or state lawmakers would pass a law that could “cost the city a lot of money,” the Tulsa World‘s Ziva Branstetter reports: Continue Reading

The View From Sardis Lake: Why Moving Water to Where It’s Needed is So Hard

A sign along Oklahoma Highway 43 near Sardis Lake.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

A sign along Oklahoma Highway 43 near Sardis Lake.

Moving water from where it’s plentiful to where it’s needed seems like a logical way to meet all Oklahomans’ future water needs. But water transfers are complicated, and not just because they’re expensive but because communities with lots of water want to keep it. Nothing illustrates this tension/challenge/whatever better than Sardis Lake.

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