Oklahoma Earthquake: 37 Oil Wells Being Shut Down — Is Fracking The Cause Of Recent Earthquake Activity?

Oklahoma is shutting down 37 oil wells after the recent 5.6-magnitude earthquake that was felt in six states.

According to CNN Money, scientists warned five months ago that drilling for oil has made the state vulnerable to induced earthquake activity. The March report by the United States Geological Survey states that recent drilling for oil and natural gas has made the people who live in Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arkansas as susceptible to earthquakes as those that live in California. Mark Petersen, the chief of the USGS National Seismic Hazard Mapping Project, commented on the induced earthquake phenomenon.

Earthquake Damage Forecast For 2016
2016 Earthquake Damage Forecast For Oklahoma Is The Same As The Earthquake Potential At The San Andreas Fault [Image Via USGS]

“By including human-induced events, our assessment of earthquake hazards has significantly increased in parts of the U.S. This research also shows that much more of the nation faces a significant chance of having damaging earthquakes over the next year, whether natural or human-induced. In the past five years, the USGS has documented high shaking and damage in areas of these six states, mostly from induced earthquakes. Furthermore, the USGS Did You Feel It? website has archived tens of thousands of reports from the public who experienced shaking in those states, including about 1,500 reports of strong shaking or damage.”

Earthquake Activity Since 1980
USGS Map Showing Increased Induced Earthquake Activity Since 1980. [Photo Via USGS]

Saturday’s 5.6-magnitude earthquake has now forced state officials to take Mark Petersen’s report seriously. Officials have now ordered the closing of 37 fracking wells that cover 725 square miles of land. In a series of tweets, Governor Mary Fallin commented on the closing of the 37 wells in Oklahoma along with damage reports from Saturday’s earthquake.

Governor Fallin has also declared a state of emergency following Saturday’s earthquake. The state of emergency order can be found here.

The discussion about whether fracking leaves the ground more prone to earthquakes has its believers and its detractors. The report issued by the USGS shows a very strong correlation between fracking and induced earthquakes. The American Petroleum Institute, however, does not believe any link exists between fracking and earthquakes. The API is an organization dedicated to representing the companies that produce oil in the United States. According to the API, fracking results in a “very low risk” of causing earthquake activity.

Where do you stand on the issue of fracking causing earthquakes? Will Oklahoma’s plan of shutting down 37 oil wells lower their risk of earthquakes similar to the 5.6 that struck on Saturday?

[Photo by Tony Gutierrez/AP Images]