Oklahoma has experienced 24 earthquakes in the last day with a magnitude of 2.5 or greater; two in Alva over night, three in Edmond, and 19 in Fairview including a 4.7 and 4.8 that were less than one minute apart. The latest earthquake hit Fairview around 10:45 a.m. this morning with a magnitude of 2.6. This is not the first time Fairview has experienced significant earthquakes – in November 2015 they experienced a series of earthquakes including a 4.3 magnitude on November 15th.
In November, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC) put forth an advisory that the wells within 3-6 miles of the epicenter of the November 15th earthquake reduce their volume by 25 percent, and wells within 6-10 miles cease operation and reduce depth. Unlike the plan set forth earlier this week in response to the recent Edmond earthquakes, there was no timeline for implementation listed and we are unable to verify at this time whether the suggested action for the Fairview wells has actually been taken. In contrast, no action has been taken or suggested to date in response to any seismic activity in the Alva area which hosts a large number of disposal wells in the vicinity.
Fairview and Alva both lie within Oklahoma House District 58, currently represented by none other than Speaker of the House Jeff Hickman. During the 2015 legislative session Speaker Hickman introduced two bills – HB 2178 and SB 809 – that tied the hands of local municipalities to have control over fracking activity in their areas. HB 2178 passed the House on a party-line vote but was never introduced in the Senate.
SB 809 however, passed the through the legislature – again on a party-line vote in both the House and Senate – and was subsequently signed by the Governor on May 29, 2015. The most concerning aspect of this bill is that localities “may not effectively prohibit or ban any oil and gas operations, including oil and gas exploration, drilling, fracture stimulation, completion, production, maintenance, plugging and abandonment, produced water disposal, secondary recovery operations, flow and gathering lines or pipeline infrastructure. All other regulations of oil and gas operations shall be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Corporation Commission.”
Russell Griffin, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Democratic Party added, “Speaker Hickman has been silent through all of the recent seismic activity in his district and it is time for him to step up, take responsibility, and take action. Furthermore, it is time that Speaker Hickman admits the legislation he so vehemently fought for last year was wrong for Oklahoma, wrong for the people in his own district, and fractures the foundation of what we consider local control.”