OU president lets OGS have $200,000 grant to improve earthquake research

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OKLAHOMA - The Oklahoma Geological Survey will now receive the total amount of a grant given to them by State Energy and Environment secretary Michael Teague.

Right now, the heart of earthquake monitoring at the Oklahoma Geological Survey only has three people monitoring hundreds of earthquakes.

"We had so many earthquakes coming in, we were just barely keeping up with it," said Jeremy Boak, director of OGS. "The more earthquakes we can monitor, the better we're able to locate the faults that are actually moving."

A $200,000 grant Teague secured from his own budget would help bring in more people.

According to Boak, all universities charge overhead in order to cover the costs of lights and building maintenance. He said they recover that cost from research dollars.

In this case, the amount would have been more than $40,000 taken out of the grant.

"I really think that it's important that every dollar we can scrape together in a time where we're looking at at least a 10 percent budget coming in next year," said State Rep. Cory Williams, D-Stillwater.

In a post, Williams asked OU President David Boren to reconsider taking that amount.

“I urge OU President Boren to see that every penny of that grant is spent on earthquake research and not on incidental expenses. Earthquakes have become the biggest threat to public safety in north central Oklahoma, and that grant money is desperately needed to continue research into this problem," Williams said. “Surely, President Boren has sufficient resources to pay the overhead expenses of the Geological Survey without tapping into that grant."

"I respect president Boren's responsibility to pay the bills down there, but I'm asking him to join me in saying, 'This is our priority,'" Williams said. "We definitely need every dollar to be going to this research."

So, NewsChannel 4 got in contact with Boren.

Within hours, his office told us they would absorb the cost and give the full amount to OGS.

They sent us this statement:

"I am happy to report that we have found a way for the University of Oklahoma to absorb all of the overhead costs for the grant to the Oklahoma Geological Survey for earthquake research. The university waived the overhead costs because we feel that earthquake research is extremely important to the safety and well-being of Oklahoma citizens. This situation underlines the role that research universities can play in serving the people of our state."

"It might make the difference we need in order to make a viable solution for the state of Oklahoma," Williams said.

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