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“We can get a better action plan,” Oklahoma lawmaker wants injection wells moved away from fault lines

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CUSHING, Okla. - An Oklahoma lawmaker is saying more needs to be done to prevent earthquakes in our state.

On Tuesday, the Oklahoma Geological Survey said injection wells used in oil and gas production is "very likely" the source of the rise in earthquakes.

Now, one lawmaker is calling for a moratorium on those wells, while a big name in the oil industry stands by his Oklahoma company’s practices.

All sides seem to agree, the water put into those injection wells needs to go into the ground.

It comes from the ground and is too toxic to keep on the surface.

However, it's where it should be injected that has Okla. Rep. Cory Williams at odds with the oil and gas industry.

“The problem is we can't see the line. We're flirting with it. We want to dangle our toes over it,” said Rep. Williams.

It's an issue that hits close to home for Rep. Williams.

In recent months, the area around his Stillwater home has become very familiar with earthquakes.

He's been saying for months the oil and gas industry has played a role in the increased seismic activity.

This week, he says he was relieved to see the Oklahoma Geological Survey link the two.

“It's highly unlikely that the increase in seismicity in Oklahoma is naturally occurring,” said Richard Andrews, the interim director of the Oklahoma Geological Survey.

The OGS has pointed the finger not at fracking, but at the injection wells, where water is placed back into ground formations.

It's a statement that contradicts what Continental Resources’ Harold Hamm said on CNBC this week.

“These earthquakes are primarily happening in areas where there's no oil and gas activity,” said Hamm.

However, Andrews says the quakes are happening within miles of the injection wells.

“Water that is injected, if you want to say, or disposed of, it can migrate quite a long distance in the sub surface, miles and miles,” he said.

In some cases, traveling to fault lines.

“Until we can get a better action plan, we shut everything down and truck it outside of the danger zone,” said Williams. “That doesn't mean you have to lay down the rigs.”

Williams says, and the OGS agrees, the water could be taken by tankers to other areas, far away from fault lines.

They also agree that because the water is toxic and comes from the ground, injecting it deep below the surface is the best option.

“There's no environmentally acceptable way, cheap way, of disposing of this water other than re-injecting it into the underground formation,” Andrews said.

Williams believes the statement by the OGS, the governor's new earthquake website and steps taken by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission to regulate these wells are good first steps.

However, he believes more needs to be done.

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