In the past, I’d felt a few small jolts or heard about Oklahoma quakes that I didn’t feel at all. When I lived in LA and San Francisco I would feel little tremors too, but for the most part, it was nothing major. When I was back home for the month of December I started feeling them. I woke up at 5 and 6 a.m. to my bed shaking and the house rattling. My step-brother’s wife and I shared a few tweets because she was a little closer to ground zero for the quake which was in Edmond, Oklahoma. Car alarms were going off and they lost power. I’m starting to see why this has become a national security problem.
In June of last year, the Oklahoma Supreme Court decided a case that allowed Oklahoma citizens the ability to sue oil companies. The court verified that rampant earthquakes are indeed caused by oil and gas operations. In the past, the quakes were occurring in areas of the state that were relatively smaller towns or in more rural areas where not as many people lived. Then quakes started happening closer to Guthrie and Edmond, which are higher populated and wealthier cities with larger more expensive homes.
Perhaps that is why, this week, Edmond, Oklahoma residents filed a class action lawsuit against twelve oil companies that are fracking around the city. The two major quakes that happened while I was home were magnitudes 4.3 and 4.2 that shook the Edmond area December 29 and January 1.
The lawsuit outlines
The use of disposal wells by defendants created conditions which, among other things, are the proximate cause of unnatural and unprecedented earthquakes that continue unabated, increasing in both frequency and magnitude within Oklahoma County and elsewhere in the state of Oklahoma, which have damaged plaintiffs and others and threaten to do so in the future.
Interestingly, Republican Governor Mary Fallin helped promote and the Republican held legislature passed Senate Bill 809 that would prevent municipalities like Edmond from banning fracking in their city. State Rep. Lewis Moore (R-Arcadia) has organized a town hall event for Edmond citizens to air their concerns about the quakes. State Rep. Randy Grau (R-Edmond) also attended the event. Here’s the interesting thing about both of those guys, they
Here’s the interesting thing about both of those guys, they voted for the bill that kept Edmond from banning fracking. So, clearly, they’re not doing their part to protect the people and property in Edmond. But then again, why would they? They’re on the side of the oil and gas companies who are trying to make more money whether it hurts the state and its residents or not.
Fossil fuels are a dying energy source that are on their way out. Right now, due to low gas prices, the state is losing money hand over fist because there just isn’t enough revenue coming in. At the same time, many of these companies got tax incentives from the state, but the tax credits didn’t have any kind of expiration on them. Now that the companies are having a hard time profit wise they’re cashing in their tax credits which the state can’t afford to pay. This has basically caused the bankruptcy of the state government with a $1 trillion shortfall.
That shortfall came before the governor’s tax cuts kicked in this January too.
To make matters worse, a few years back, the legislature passed the ALEC bill that heavily taxed citizens who install their own solar panels. In 2014, the federal government let the wind energy tax credit lapse too. Just a year later, Oklahoma passed a law that significantly limited the state tax incentives for wind energy. Perhaps some saw the shortfall on the horizon and feared the affordability of them, but the likelihood of most is that they’re all in the pocket of the oil and gas companies. If only these companies had diversified in their energy. If only the state had diversified in its key industry in the state, they wouldn’t be in the place that they are now. Bankrupt and under the threat of litigation.
Featured image via Wikipedia