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Gov. Fallin Taps Emergency Account To Fund Research And Regulation Of Oil-Linked Earthquakes

Jan 29, 2016

Gov. Mary Fallin on Thursday approved the transfer of nearly $1.4 million from the state emergency fund to strengthen Oklahoma’s earthquake response.

The money is going to a pair of agencies tasked with researching the earthquake surge and regulating the oil and gas activities likely causing it.

The multi-agency effort to rein in Oklahoma’s earthquake boom has been hampered for years with incomplete information about faults and formations, and inconsistent data from the operators of disposal wells linked to the shaking.

The $387,000 earmarked for the Oklahoma Corporation Commission will help pay for the hiring of a senior-level oil and gas attorney, and contracts for two geologists and a consulting geophysicist. The commission will use some of the money to upgrade computer systems used to collect and analyze oil-field and earthquake data.

The Oklahoma Geological Survey is getting $1 million for various research projects, and to expand and enhance the state’s web of earthquake sensors.

“The money will help us upgrade our whole seismic network,” survey Director Jeremy Boak says. “From seismometers through network links to computers and analytical tools … to streamline the process for our analytical team so that we can do more, quicker.”

The emergency quake funding comes as concern about the shaking grows — from the public and politicians. At a pair of rowdy public meetings in January, lawmakers promised to take on the earthquake issue during the upcoming 2016 legislative session.

For years, Fallin and other government officials cast doubt on a growing body ofscientific evidence suggesting the shaking was caused by the industry-wide practice of pumping wastewater from oil and gas production into underground rock formations.

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