FrackQuakes: How Big Oil played the Okies

Published 4 years ago -

A Little Okie Earthquake History from one who lives here
~ by Melissa Rabe

This is my first post, so please be patient with me. I live in Oklahoma and have been subjected to years of lies by the oil and gas industry’s paid lackeys, the OK Corporation Commission and my elected “representatives” that sold us a bill of goods that always included no correlation or causation between hydraulic fracturing and its’ subsequently necessary injection wells. No one in Oklahoma is willing to accept that anymore!

Back in 2009, I believed our first earthquakes were caused by fracturing but no one believed me. It has been a very long eight years for me, so please bear with me as I share some thoughts in no particular order. The people of Oklahoma were told to “wait until the science is in”, and since we could not provide data to prove it was “human induced seismicity”, a phrase that wasn’t heard of back then. Some of the ridiculous excuses used by oil and gas mouthpieces included , during winter months ,that the quakes were caused by cold and were called “cold booms” or “frost quakes”; and during the summer, in three years of exceptional drought conditions, that the quakes were caused by the weight of water in lakes and reservoirs. By then the people were laughing at the sheer absurdity of the lies.

We were told to wait and we waited too long. The OKLAHOMA legislature passed S.B.809 that took away the right of towns and localities to ban fracturing and injection wells. It was quickly signed into law by Gov. Mary Fallin who almost immediately proclaimed that injection wells were to blame. Oklahomans no longer had the ability to protect themselves, their homes, their property, their water, or their future. Hydraulic fracturing increased, high pressure injection increased and the earthquakes increased. There is not another place on earth that has been extracted and injected at this rate or to this extent. They have no idea what they have done, they have no way to control it, and they have no idea what the future holds. They,of course, is the oil and gas industry and they just don’t care.

They use a minimum of 4 million gallons of fresh water to fracture a well. That is the equivalent of 76 Olympic size swimming pools. Four million gallons of water taken out of the hydrologic cycle forever. They use up to 250 kinds of detergents, surfactants, lubricants, and additives to the previously clean water to fracture a well horizontally in all directions for a distance of miles. When the water comes back to the surface it is contaminated and usually radioactive. They don’t care about any of this.

Hydraulic fracturing is a short sighted, expensive, and injurious extraction method that poisons the air, pollutes the water above and below the ground, and causes earthquakes. When the industry itself calls the practice”enhanced extraction method” it is a simple reminder that “enhanced interrogation techniques” really meant “torture”. Not any difference really.

It is not a matter of political allegiance. Both parties can be influenced by money and power. Both parties can be influenced by “group speak”, or anti-science, or pro-business forces. When your states’ economy is based on the oil and gas industry, the threat of job loss is real and palpable. Some of it is based on ignorance, and no desire to educate yourself on the real cost/benefit analysis of our situation.

However, politically speaking, undue influence has been used in our state over the last few years to influence public discourse and public education. Oil magnate, Harold Hamm, demanded that University of Oklahoma president, David Boren, have a private meeting with Austin Holland, the lead geologist with the Oklahoma Geologic Survey, housed on the O.U. campus. Hamm did not want even the possibility of causation or correlation between oil and gas and the increase in OK earthquakes. Hamm threatened to remove the OGS from the university campus. Hamm also wanted to be on the board of directors to pick future”scientists” in the OGS.

Holland succumbed to pressure for a couple of years, until the science could no longer be denied. He is no longer in Oklahoma. Harold Hamm is still here. He and Gov. Mary Fallin will be hosting a fundraiser in Norman, OK this next Saturday for Donald Trump. Trump has allegedly picked Harold Hamm for Secretary of Energy; so hydraulic fracturing, and earthquakes could be in all of the United States, not just Oklahoma.

For those of you looking for other ways of disposing of hydraulic fracturing wastewater look no further than California, where wastewater is used on food crops. You think you are living a healthy lifestyle eating healthy foods like grapes, and clementine oranges, and almond milk? How would you feel when you found that those crops were watered by wastewater from hydraulic fracturing? Would you be concerned by benzene and toluene in the foods you feel good about feeding your toddler? Drought striken California has chosen that risk. Not a choice anyone would make if they knew the facts. Carcinogens or water for crops. What would you do? Would you take the risk?

Borrowing from Star Trek, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Why we don’t honor that is beyond me. Why doing unto others as you would do unto me is now a concept we can no longer fathom, and beyond me. Although the term NIMBY seems archaic to me, (not in my back yard), I guess that’s how people view all of this. And, it is shameful. It is illogical, it is immoral and it should be illegal!

Bernie Sanders was the only candidate that wanted to do away with hydraulic fracturing.

Donald Trump wants Harold Hamm as Secretary of Energy. Need I say more?

North Korea detonated a nuclear device that caused a 5.6 seismic event. Pawnee, OK had a 5.8 seismic event followed by 40 other earthquakes. Are you concerned yet?

You should be.

Thanks for your patience.

Melissa Rabe is former Oklahoma Chair of the Dennis Kucinich Presidential Campaign and lives in Central Oklahoma with fracking next door.

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