More ‘Political Pressure’ Testimony from Former State Seismologist

More of the claims of “political pressure”  of a former state seismologist are being heard in one of Oklahoma’s earthquake lawsuits.

As OK Energy Today reported in October, Dr. Austin Holland told his side of the story in how he departed the University of Oklahoma in a difference of opinion whether the quakes are related to oilfield activity.

But News 9’s Alex Cameron has expanded on some of the testimony and reported on it this week. Cameron managed to obtain the full transcript of Holland’s testimony.

Holland now works for the U.S. Geological Survey in New Mexico and is a potential witness in a lawsuit filed over the 2011 Prague earthquake. He left OU in 2015 after feeling the effects of political pressure from University leaders as well as the Oklahoma oil and gas industry when he espoused opinions that wastewater injection wells played a role in the increase in quakes.

Holland explained the final straw was being told by Larry Grillot, the Dean of OU’s Mewbourne college of Earth and Energy at the time, that a peer-reviewed journal article he co-authored on induced seismicity was “unacceptable.”

Holland also testified that some of his supervisors changed the wording of some of his presentations.

“They would tell me that they had gotten a bunch of calls, complaints, after I’d give a news conference about some earthquake or something, and they’d say they had gotten a lot of complaints and that we need to really watch how we say things and that, you know, we have to make sure that we’re accurate,” stated Holland.

He also included OU President David Boren in his criticism.

“Well, the president of the university expressed to me that I had complete academic freedom, but that as part of being an employee of the state survey, I also have a need to listen to, you know, the people within the oil and gas industry. And so, Harold Hamm expressed to me that I had to be careful of the way in which I say things, that hydraulic fracturing is critical to the state’s economy in Oklahoma, and that me publicly stating that earthquakes can be caused by hydraulic fracturing was—you know, could be misleading, and that he was nervous about the war on fossil fuels at the time.”


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