Wednesday, December 09, 2015

During Sunday broadcast, TV news magazine to spotlight Oklahoma's man-made earthquakes

An Al-Jazeera television report on Oklahoma's man-made earthquakes scheduled to air on Sunday features the state's former seismologist speaking about the pressure he was under to not link the oil and gas industry to an increase in earthquakes, Mike Soraghan reports for EnergyWire. Prior to the oil and gas boom of 2009, Oklahoma averaged two earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 or higher per year. Last year Oklahoma had 585 earthquakes and has had more than 800 this year.

Speaking on "Fault Lines," former Oklahoma Geological Survey seismologist Austin Holland "said oil titan Harold Hamm told him to 'watch how you say things' in a now-notorious 'coffee' meeting in the office of University of Oklahoma President David Boren," Soraghan writes. "He also said a position paper released in 2014, deeming the earthquakes to be natural, contradicted OGS's scientific understanding. OGS is part of the university, which at the time was seeking a $25 million donation from Hamm for a new building."

"OGS lagged behind federal and academic scientists in finding that the swarms of quakes were related to wastewater disposal from oil and gas operations," Soraghan writes. "Holland said it was clear to him and others at OGS by 2013, but OGS didn't formally acknowledge it until April of this year. Scientists say the unprecedented swarms of man-made quakes in the state since 2009 can be attributed to favorably aligned faults and production methods that create uniquely large volumes of wastewater."

Fault Lines will air at 9 p.m. (EST) on Sunday. Oklahoma officials said producers from CBS's 60 Minutes are also working on a story about Oklahoma's earthquakes. (USGS graphic)

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