A 4.3 magnitude earthquake was reported near Cherokee at 9:08 a.m. on Thursday. This comes after the Oklahoma Corporation Commission directed SandRidge Energy to shut down an injection well in Alfalfa County on Tuesday.
The well was shut down due to a magnitude 4.1 earthquake recorded in the area on Friday. It’s the second active wastewater injection well to be shut down since 2003, when a new monitoring system was put into place.
Oklahoma’s earthquakes are continuing to increase. In 2011 Oklahoma experienced the largest earthquake in state history, magnitude 5.7. That year there were 63 quakes of magnitude 3 or greater.
2012 was a bit quieter with 34 earthquakes of magnitude 3 or greater. However, in 2013 earthquakes increased again with 106 of magnitude 3 or greater. And in 2014 the number jumped to 567 quakes of magnitude 3 or greater.
While studies continue to link the increase in earthquakes to injection wells, the state has been slow to address the issue. The oil and gas industry accounts for a third of the state’s economy and one in five jobs, making state officials slow to enact more regulations on the industry.
In September of last year Gov. Fallin created a seismic activity council to study the issue. However, some have criticized the council because they believe the oil and natural gas industry is too heavily represented.
“I applaud the governor for proposing the council, but its membership needs to be expanded to include someone other than just people beholden to the oil and gas industry,” . Sen. Jerry Ellis, D-Valliant said. –read more
How Oklahoma handles the earthquake increase and the oil and natural gas industry could also come from the Oklahoma Supreme Court. The state’s highest court is set to decide if two oil companies can be held liable for injuries a woman received from the 2011 5.7 magnitude earthquake.
Map Credit: U.S. Geological Survey
Department of the Interior/USGS