State Gets “Lukewarm” Support over Earthquake Moves at Edmond

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission’s move to reduce operations of five wastewater injection wells in an effort to curb the growing earthquakes in Edmond is getting strong support from some but lukewarm from others.

Attorney Scott Poynter, the Little Rock, Arkansas attorney who has sued two oil companies over the 2011 earthquake that damaged homes and businesses in Prague has announced his support for the Commission.

But he also admits his support is “lukewarm” because he says the Commission has been “very slow to admit that wastewater disposal wells have been wreaking havoc on homes and businesses in Oklahoma since 2011, and moreover, has not gone far enough in addressing the frackquakes making Oklahoma the earthquake capital of the world.”

Poynter says the Oklahoma Corporation Commission should take a cue from what the Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission did in 2011 by creating moratorium areas around the now-active fault lines.

“Oklahoma needs and must have wastewater injecton moratorium areas to end the substantial risk of catastrophe,” said Poynter who explained he and his co-counsel are using federal environmental laws to create such moratoriums through the courts.”

It was Poynter who argued last year successfully before the Oklahoma Supreme Court that property owners’ claims against the industry for earthquake damages belonged in district courts and not before the Corporation Commission as the industry wanted.

At the same time, the Oklahoma Democratic Party has come out issuing its own “lukewarm” support for this week’s move by the Corporation Commission and is attempting to turn the issue into a political one.

“The action to call for a reduction in well activity is only a small step in dealing with a much larger problem,” said Mark Hammons, chair of the Democratic Party. “It is disappointing that the legislature and the Corporation Commission waited so long to take action towards remedying a problem that has been allowed to get so far out of control, especially over the past 3 years.”

He said that despite the more than 5,000 earthquakes ranging from a magnitude of 1.3 to 4.7 in the last year, the legislature chose “to stifle the ability for local municipalities to set limits for disposal wells based on the needs of their community.”

Hammons said the move, steered by the Republican-dominated state legislature, “the same politicians who continually campaign on the ideals of small government and local control, continue to spread misinformation and tie the hands of their own constituents.” He wants the legislature to take swift and immediate action in the coming session and restore local control.

“Furthermore, we call upon the people of Oklahoma to hold their elected officials accountable for their action or inaction as it may be and should thse officials refuse to take the necessary action, that communities join together to make purposeful and decisive steps at the ballot box in 2016.”


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