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Oklahoma Oil and Gas Association responds to quakes: “The notion that the governor, commission aren’t doing anything isn’t accurate”

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OKLAHOMA - A political showdown, or a genuine cry for help?

The president of the Oklahoma Oil and Gas Association is calling out State Representative Richard Morrissette, saying his remarks about the state doing nothing to help our earthquake situation is a lie.

This is one of the few times the oil industry is speaking out.

They're usually tight-lipped about the earthquakes in Oklahoma.

But, the president of the association assures they're doing all they can to help the Oklahoma shake-down.

"They're not doing anything," said Rep. Richard Morrissette (D.92). "They're trying to convince the public that they're doing, and they're not."

"The notion that the governor and commission aren't doing anything isn't accurate. It's not fair," said Chad Warmington, president of the Oklahoma Oil and Gas Association.

Warmington said, for some time, they have been cooperating with the state in an effort to slow down the quakes.

"There's nothing to hide, and there's nothing we can hide. We report it daily. The commission has it all," Warmington said. "They requested it because, again, they're trying to get their arms around okay, if we have seismic activity in a certain area, let's go back and see if we can't have a correlation to certain injection activity at certain wells to certain distances."

"This is a freight train out of control," Morrissette said. "Stop the train. Cease, and desist."

But, the association maintains a moratorium is just not possible right now.

We asked them if the association would fight back legally.

"I think what you have to go back it is what is the scientific based answer to these issues and what the scientists tell us is we can manage the situation and the commission can manage the situation, so a moratorium doesn't really help us manage it. We're not going to know what the proper level of injection is and where we should be putting this water if we just did a shut down," Warmington said. "What they'll also tell you is, if we were to have an immediate reduction in the state of Oklahoma, you could actually trigger more earthquakes, and we don't want to do that, as well."

"They're blowing air around the table, trying to convince the public," Morrissette said. "It's like putting lipstick on a pig. It's still a pig, and they know it!"

The president of the Oil and Gas Association said, because of the directives from the commission, there has been a reduction in seismic activity.

We spoke with Jeremy Boak, the director of the Oklahoma Geological Survey, who said it's partially true.

In the first half of 2015, Oklahoma experienced  53 more earthquakes of 3.0 magnitude or greater.

In the second half, it went down by 10 percent.

While that is a reduction, Boak said he cannot confirm a correlation from the directives issued by the commission.

He said it could also simply be a lull in quakes or even perhaps an outcome of the lower price in oil that may have caused companies to shut down some of their wells.

"In the first half of 2015 (January through June), there were 480 M3.0+ and 14 M4.0+ earthquakes. In the second half (July through December), there were 427 M3.0+ and 15 M4.0+ earthquakes. There were about 10 percent fewer of the M3.0+ earthquakes, but more of the earthquakes were of the larger magnitude, so it is unclear if there was a truly significant change in seismic energy release. However, it does at least suggest a flattening for the first time since 2012.

We are not certain the reduction in earthquakes is due to commission actions. It could also be due to wells being shut in due to the lower oil price. And, there is still the possibility that it is due simply to a lull in seismic activity, as earthquakes are distinctly episodic."

In 2014, OGS said they recorded 584 magnitude 3.0 earthquakes.

In 2015, they recorded 907.