It’s great to see a consistent and substantial decline in Oklahoma earthquakes — more than 80% drop in the last two years in quakes magnitude 3.0 or greater.
We never want to declare the problem “solved,” but obviously the answers put in place over the last three years are working.
Even if economic conditions and market forces deserve much of the credit for the huge decline in quake numbers, there are distinct lessons to be learned from how Oklahoma responded to the earthquake problem.
State action, not federal or local action, is the first lesson. Even though fault lines, earthquake swarms and horizontal drilling crossed state lines, federal laws and enforcement likely would have ended in disaster. Federal information, not federal regulation, was the right answer. The U.S. Geological Survey was and is a constructive participant with good, reliable information. But, a one-size-fits-all rule and enforcement from the federal government would have equated to a colossal disaster.
An unexpected problem required a nontraditional solution. It took a coalition of state, federal and business interests working together.
It took cooperation from oil and gas drillers. That public-private partnership wasn’t always easy to achieve, but the results were golden.
As with many solutions, not everyone is happy. The 80% drops in noticeable earthquakes in just two years show that the state’s solution — long-term and quickly imposed restrictions on re-injecting energy production waste water underground — is working.
It’s a delicate balance between regulating oil and gas producers — telling landowners and private business what they can and cannot do — and protecting private property throughout the region from earthquake damage. But, for most Oklahomans, it appears the remedy is what’s necessary to fix the problem. At least, that’s what we hope to keep seeing in the months and years ahead.
— Enid News & Eagle