While the Oklahoma Sierra Club was preparing for an “Earth (Quake) Day” protest at the state capitol, its attorneys with Public Justice based in Washington, D.C. were filing an amended lawsuit naming SandRidge Energy as another defendant accused of causing earthquakes in Oklahoma through use of its wastewater injection wells.
The amended suit was filed Monday in Oklahoma City federal court, adding SandRidge to the original suit against Chesapeake Energy, Devon Energy and New Dominion.
“We said at the time that we had a notice issue (with SandRidge) and finally this complaint bears out what we said all along,” explained Richard Webster, an attorney with Public Justice. “There are some conspiracy theorists out there cooking up wild and wonderful theories which were all entirely incorrect.”
New to the amended lawsuit is the addition of the recent earthquake report issued by the U.S. Geological Survey which concluded that the extensive use of injection wells throughout Oklahoma will only increase the risk of much larger earthquakes.
“Even if all the injection wells in Oklahoma ceased operating immediately, it would take a long period of time for the earthquake risk to return to natural background,” stated the new suit. It quoted Daniel McNamara, a seismologist at the USGS Geologic Hazards Science Center who estimated that the injection that has already occurred, could generate earthquakes for hundreds of years.
“The USGS report really confirmed what we already concluded that there is a significant risk of a damaging earthquake right now and will be ongoing for some time,” added Webster.
His law group apparently is the first to take advantage of the USGS report and use it in corroboration of allegations in the lawsuit.
“I think we’re probably the first to allege in a complaint but I’m assuming in the other cases, lawyers will use that report as evidence and certainly a causation—- that the injection is causing these earthquakes,” said Webster.
The lawsuit is asking a judge to order an immediate and substantial reduction of the amounts of production wastes injected into the ground to levels “that seismologists believe will not cause or contribute to increased earthquake frequency and severity.”
It also asks that an order be issued requiring the establishment of an independent earthquake monitoring and prediction center to determine the amount of production wastes that might be injected into a specific well or formation before induced seismicity occurs.
Listen to Jerry Bohnen’s interview of Richard Webster.