The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Opinion

May 8, 2014

Let’s get more research on water-injection link

ENID, Okla. — Two months ago, we called for more scientific research to explain the uptick of Oklahoma earthquakes.

Since Jan. 1, there have been more than 50 in the area surrounding Enid. A 3.6 magnitude earthquake early Saturday morning was the strongest ever recorded in a seismically active area north of Enid.

The rate of earthquakes in Oklahoma has increased by about 50 percent since October 2013, significantly increasing the chance for a damaging quake in central Oklahoma, according to the U.S. Geological Survey and Oklahoma Geological Survey.

In a unique announcement, the agencies said the likelihood of future, damaging earthquakes has increased for central and north-central Oklahoma.

They also identified a likely culprit.

“The water injection can increase underground pressures, lubricate faults and cause earthquakes — a process known as injection-induced seismicity,” the report stated. “Much of this wastewater is a byproduct of oil and gas production and is routinely disposed of by injection into wells specifically designed and approved for this purpose. The recent earthquake rate changes are not due to typical, random fluctuations in natural seismicity rates.”

In March, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission unanimously voted to adopt new data monitoring and reporting rules for disposal well operators in central Oklahoma’s Arbuckle Formation, StateImpact Oklahoma reported.

Again, we’re calling for more scientific data on this issue. What limits are reasonable with water injection, and how much is too much?

At what point is the practice unacceptable with the risk of future problems?

Putting politics aside, let’s research and get more concrete answers backed by credible data.

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