Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

Earthquake “Swarms” Shaking Oklahoma As Well

After 20 earthquakes in a month, will state regulators respond?


After 20 earthquakes in a month, will state regulators respond?

Last week we reported from the Texas town of Azle, where a swarm of low-intensity earthquakes has frightened townspeople, damaged property, and put state regulators on the defensive.

Azle had never experienced earthquakes like this before the arrival of waste water disposal wells, related to oil and gas drilling. Science has shown how those wells can cause earthquakes, so the people of the region were hoping for some answers when the Railroad Commission of Texas, the Agency that regulates the state’s oil and gas sector, came to town for a public forum.

The mood soured when Commissioner David Porter announced that he would not be answering questions.

The same day that event was taking place in Texas, our colleagues at StateImpact Oklahoma were filing their own report on the sudden uptick in earthquakes there.

StateImpact Oklahoma’s Joe Wertz reports for NPR:

“For the past three decades, Oklahoma averaged about 50 earthquakes a year. But that number has skyrocketed in the past few years. In 2013 — the state’s most seismically active year ever — there were almost 3,000.”

And, like in Texas, the US Geological Survey sees a link between those earthquakes and wastewater disposal.  People there have become so concerned that one state official is recommending that Oklahomans take out earthquake insurance. And reporters are saying the state is unprepared if the quakes grow in magnitude.

Read all about it here on NPR and on the website of our neighbors to the north at StateImpact Oklahoma.








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