“This is greed, pure and simple,” Oklahoma representative writes open letter to oil and gas president

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EDMOND, Okla. – As many Edmond residents are still a bit shaken after a large earthquake rattled the area in the new year, one Oklahoma lawmaker says he has had enough.

On New Year’s Day, many residents reported feeling a 4.2 magnitude earthquake that hit the area.

Some say the quakes are becoming a common theme in certain parts of town, but one lawmaker is tired of it.

Oklahoma Rep. Richard Morrissette decided to write an open letter to Chad Warmington, the president of the Oklahoma Oil and Gas Association.

“In response to your remarks that appear in the Oklahoman article of January 5, 2016, regarding seismic activity and what you describe as my “politicizing” this issue and showing disrespect and a lack of understanding of the hard work of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission and other researchers, let me share the following and say that you insult my intelligence and that of my fellow Oklahomans with your characterization.

After the significant earthquakes in Edmond, OK, last week, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission responded by saying that they were puzzled because there were “no known operational wells near ground zero” and they had no knowledge of any faults in the area. Now, they are saying there are 5 operating wells within 10 miles or so of ground zero and disposal wells within 3.5 miles and we have independent confirmation of a nightmare scenario in the comments of USGS seismologist Daniel McNamara that the basement rock in the Arbuckle formation is saturated from years of wastewater disposal and any stress could trigger a fault to fail.

Devon Energy Corp’s Harvey 1-11 and Pedestal Oil Co. are now willing to shutter 5 wells and reduce by 20% injection activity on others. It just isn’t that difficult to understand, Mr. Warmington. Industry giants like Devon do not cease production unless there’s a real problem. The statutes give the Oklahoma Corporation Commission the authority to shut down these wells yet they have waited for such quakes as those in Edmond to occur, acting with weakness and fear, while approaching one of the biggest offenders, SandRidge Energy, with notes of polite requests that have produced no results for our citizens. 

We have been vertically drilling for gas and oil in Oklahoma for 100 years with only a few minor hiccups. Now, the fossil fuel industry sees the ‘writing on the environmental wall’ and decides to expedite production, before this form of energy goes the way of coal.

This is greed, pure and simple, Mr. Warmington. And, as president of the Oklahoma Oil and Gas Association, you are leading an industry that came into our state with the promise of jobs but failed to tell Oklahomans they’d have to accept serious and devastating risks to lives and property, while providing tax breaks to incentivize and hasten their own demise.”

Following the earthquakes, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission ordered five wells within 10 miles of the recent Edmond earthquakes epicenters to operate at reduced volumes.

Only one well by Pedestal Oil Company will be reduced by 50 percent. Four others by Devon Energy, Grayhorse operating, New Dominion and Taylor R C operating will be reduced by 25 percent.

While many of the oil companies that operate in the state have followed the commission’s requests to reduce disposal well injections, one company is not complying.

The state has asked SandRidge Energy to shut down six wells in the Medford/Cherokee area, but the company is refusing to follow recommendations.

The commission says it is pursuing legal action against SandRidge.