Environment, Education, Energy: Policy to People

State Seismologist to WaPo: Oil Industry Has Tried to Influence Earthquake Research

Oklahoma Geological Survey seismologist Austin Holland.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma Geological Survey seismologist Austin Holland.

Washington Post reporter Lori Montgomery traveled central Oklahoma and filed a story about Oklahoma’s earthquake swarm, an examination that included interviews from concerned residents, politicians and Sandra Ladra, who was injured in the 5.7-magnitude November 2011 earthquake and filed a lawsuit seeking damages from oil copanies she says are liable.

Montgomery also interviewed a cadre of university, federal and state scientists, who suggest at least some of the shaking has likely been triggered by disposal wells. A few lines, in particular, stood out:

Meanwhile, the state seismologist, Austin Holland, readily acknowledged that the industry has tried to influence his work — even as he and his colleague, Amberlee Darold, are pelted with “hate e-mail” from quake victims.

“I can’t really talk about it,” Holland said, taking a cigarette break from the dirty work of burying instruments near a cow pasture southwest of Oklahoma City. “I try not to let it affect the research and the science. We’re going to do the right thing.”

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