“Either way, I’m going to be affected,” Business worries as earthquake proposal fails

GUTHRIE, Okla. - There's no way for Linda Rice to win.

Standing behind the cash register of downtown Guthrie's Heritage Collection, Rice points out the damage her business suffered in an earthquake last year.

A thin crack runs up the wall, and Rice worries more are on the way.

"I was beginning to get a little calmer, because we weren’t having that many, and then the 5.8 [magnitude Pawnee earthquake] hit," she said. "If there was one that big centered here, I’m afraid it would do a lot of damage."

The Logan County Commissioners share those fears, too.

The Pawnee earthquake pushed District 1 Commissioner Marven Goodman to write a resolution, asking the state to temporarily shut down all of the county's disposal wells.

But, that resolution never made it to a vote, failing to garner a "second" from either of the two other county commissioners.

"I believe all the injection wells that are causing the issues have been shut down," said Board Chairman Michael Pearson. "I believe the Corporation Commission has a very good handle on it. Plus, I wonder about the impact that this may have on the citizens in our county who rely on gas and oil production."

Rice worries about that impact, too.

"I depend on sales in my store and, when you shut down the oil wells, you are going to affect the economy. The economy affects my business," she said. "I don’t want to lose my building, of course. But, I also don’t want to go out of business, because I don’t have business, because the economy is bad."

Rice had to pay thousands of dollars to replace bricks and mortar on her business, and she fears another "big one" is possible.

But, she has a hard time figuring out how the state and the county should go about solving the problem.

"To be honest, I don’t know what the answer is," she said. "It’s really scary, because we don’t know what’s coming in front of us."

The Oklahoma Oil and Gas Association supported Logan County's decision, saying closing all disposal wells would negatively impact the economy and the availability of oil and natural gas.

President Chad Warmington told NewsChannel 4 in a statement:

"Logan County was one of the very first areas addressed by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission to reduce disposal of produced water. The continued action of the OCC has led to the desired results of significantly reducing seismic activity in and near Logan County. A majority of the Logan County commissioners understood that the OCC has the research and data to make these important decisions."