Democrats Attack Speaker Hickman Over Earthquakes

“Speaker Hickman has been silent.” State Democratic Party on earthquake response.

The latest swarm of earthquakes in Oklahoma has again prompted the State Democratic party to blast state leaders over the issue. This time, the party is going after State House Speaker Jeff Hickman whose home district is Fairview where more than a dozen earthquakes hit Wednesday night, the strongest being 4.8 magnitude. The party is accusing him of being silent as the state shakes.

Russell Griffin, Executive Director of the Democratic Party pointed out that it was Hickman who introduced two bills in the 2015 legislative session to keep local municipalities from controlling fracking activity.

“HB 2178 and SB 809—tied the hands of local municipalities to have control over fracking activity in their areas,” said Griffin. HB 2178 passed the House on a party-line vote but was never introduced in the Senate. SB 809 passed through the legislature on a party-line vote in the House and Senate and was signed into law by Governor Fallin on May 29, 2015.

“The most concerning aspect of this bill is that localities may not effectively prohibit or ban any oil and gas operations, including oil and gas exploration, drilling, fracture stimulation, completion, production, maintenance, plugging and abandonment, produced water disposal, secondary recovery operations, flow and gathering lines or pipeline infrastructure,” said Griffin. “Speaker Hickman has been silent through all of the recent seismic activity in his district and it is time for him to step up, take responsbility and take action.”

He said it’s also time for the Speaker to admit that the legislation he supported and pushed last year “was wrong for Oklahoma, wrong for the people in his own district and fractures the foundation of what we consider local control.”

Griffin pointed out that in November 2015, the city of Fairview experienced a series of quakes including a 4.3 magnitude quake on Nov. 15. The Corporation Commission issued orders that wells within 3-6 miles of the epicenter reduce volume by 25 percent. He said that unlike the plan set forth recently in response to the earthquakes in Edmond, there was no timeline for implementation listed.


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