USGS: Fracking’s disposal wells are the cause of earthquakes in Oklahoma

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OKLAHOMA -- It's the million dollar question in Oklahoma: What's causing all the earthquakes?

There have been a lot of theories about fracking causing earthquakes. But now, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) says that fracking's disposal wells are indeed, to blame.

The debate about the cause of earthquakes in Oklahoma has really heated up within the last year. But now, the USGS is making strong statements about what they believe is the root of the problem.

A press release states, "... the increased seismicity is due to  fluid injection associated with new technologies that enable the extraction of oil and gas..."

For some, that could end the debate. But Kim Hatfield, with the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association, says not so fast.

"I don't think it's particularly helpful because basically, it says we've come to a conclusion, but we don't have the science to back it up," Hatfield said. "Oklahoma has been very geologically active over time, and that's one of the reasons we have so many oil and gas traps."

While USGS calls for transparency in collecting data, Hatfield says that's nothing new.

"You know, this is what we've been doing for the last year and a half. We were proactive in this. We were the ones who came forward and said 'Listen, we want to work with the regulators, with the Geological Survey.'"

Matt Skinner, with the Corporation Commission, said, "This is more of a policy paper saying, you need to respond to it. You know, there has to be some kind of concerted effort."

He says there are maps that show a growth in technology that has helped develop new guidelines.

"Even if you're in an earthquake, according to the records we have, if you're within three miles of a stressed fault, your only chance to put a disposal well there is to file for a yellow light permit," Skinner said.

He says right now, there are about 80 applications that may not be approved.

Both sides of the issue say they're looking to work together to find more answers.

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