Gov. Mary Fallin has created a council designed to connect people researching Okahoma’s recent swarm of earthquakes with policy makers and energy industry experts.
“Oklahoma has always had seismic activity,” Fallin said Thursday at the Governor’s Energy Conference in Oklahoma City. “But the reality is, we are seeing more earthquakes today than we did several decades ago. It’s important we study this issue and have sound science that can inform decisions made in both the public and private sector.
“This new council will link researchers with the energy industry and policymakers to ensure we are maximizing communication and access to information,” she said. “We can’t examine a complex issue like this in a vacuum; everyone needs to be at the same table and talking.”
The Coordinating Council on Seismic Activity will include input from public sector groups like the Oklahoma Geologic Survey, the Corporation Commission, and the Oklahoma Energy Resources Board; research institutions including the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University; industry groups like the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association and the Oklahoma Oil and Gas Association; and state legislators.
The number of earthquakes in Oklahoma measuring magnitude 3.0 or greater has jumped from an average of less than five a year to about 40 a year for the past five years, and more than 200 in 2014, according to the Oklahoma Geological Survey.
Some researchers have attributed the increased activity to natural causes. Others have pointed largely to the oil and natural gas industry, specifically at its practice of disposing of produced water by pumping it deep underground.