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Fracking Company Defend Water Injections Linked to Oklahoma Earthquakes

anita_starzycka / Pixabay
anita_starzycka / Pixabay

Fracking company SandRidge Energy is refusing to comply with a directive from the Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC) to reduce the amount of water it injects into underground wells, setting up a legal battle related to the swarms of fracking-related earthquakes the state has experienced over the last several years.

“We have had 100% compliance with the plans that we have issued up until now,” OCC spokesperson Matt Skinner told ThinkProgress. “The issue is, what does the data suggest in terms of potential risk of induced seismicity?”

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But SandRidge “is saying there isn’t sufficient evidence that wastewater injection wells are triggering earthquakes, and it will not comply with the voluntary measures,” Page writes. “In turn, the OCC will file an application to the agency’s commissioners—a group of three elected officials who have judicial authority—to legally change SandRidge’s allowable levels.”

The commission has issued at least 10 directives, covering hundreds of storage wells, to reduce the volume of water companies can inject underground, she adds. “The commission, acting as judges, will have to determine whether the risk—and the evidence—justifies amending SandRidge’s permit to lower allowable injection levels.”

The connection between fracking wells and the state’s earthquake problem is “pretty clear,” ThinkProgress notes.

“As long as you keep injecting wastewater along that fault zone, according to my calculations, you’re going to continue to have earthquakes,” Arthur F. McGarr of the federal Earthquake Science Center told the New York Times in April.