Council to study Oklahoma earthquakes criticized for members’ professions

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OKLAHOMA CITY – Last week, Gov. Mary Fallin, announced the creation of the Coordinating Council on Seismic Activity.

Organizers say the council will help coordinate research efforts and streamline information that looks into our state’s dramatic increase in earthquakes.

The council will include input from the Oklahoma Geological Survey and the Corporation Commission.

It will also include representatives from the Oklahoma Energy Resources Board, Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association and the Oklahoma Oil and Gas Association.

The council is headed by Michael Teague, our state’s Secretary of Energy and Environment.

“It’s really synchronization more than anything else,” said Teague. “There’s a lot of folks that really are trying to figure out what the answers are. And they’re trying to see where those connections are, but there’s just so many different pieces and they’re not coordinated right now.”

Some are criticizing the make up of the council, saying it includes too many people from the oil and gas industry.

“The Secretary of Energy? Really? Going to study earthquakes? Doesn’t make sense. Secretary of Energy’s there to make sure he protects the energy industry, I think,” said David Slane. “Do we really expect them to come back with a recommendation against themselves?”

“It does concern me that because this is an election year, I’m not 100 percent convinced that this is a genuine effort to solve the problem,” said Casey Holcomb, with the Norman Fracking Forum.

Teague points out that he’s not just the Secretary of Energy, but is concerned with the environment as well.

He says the council isn’t actually doing the studying, merely the coordinating.

He insists they are including a diverse group.

“We are talking to environmental groups and industry folks and academic folks and state agencies and how do you bring them all together?” said Teague.

Teague says communication with the public will also be a top priority.

Critics say they will be watching closely.

Some critics say the council should include average citizens.

They suggest adding residents who have experienced earthquake damage, insurance companies who have to pay out on those damages and possibly independent earthquake specialists.

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