By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
A filmmaker and members of activist environmental groups say that finally the voice of average Oklahomans, whose lives are affected by the state’s recent onset of earthquakes, will be heard in a one-hour documentary entitled, “Oklahoma Shakedown.”
On Tuesday, November 17, a new film will reveal those stories. A discussion of issues will follow. The event is scheduled from 7-8:30 p.m. at Edmond Trinity Christian Church, 1400 NW 178th.
After some dispute, last spring the Oklahoma Geological Survey showed “the majority of recent earthquakes in central and north-central Oklahoma are very likely triggered by the injection of produced water in disposal wells….”.
In August Gov. Mary Fallin met behind closed doors with the Oklahoma Coordinating Council of Seismic Activity.
Afterwards, as reported by Pat McGuigan, editor of The City Sentinel, “Nothing said in response to questions was quite as stark as the chief executive’s opening remarks.”
Gov. Fallin said, “We all know now there is a direct correlation between the increase in earthquakes we’ve seen in Oklahoma and the disposal wells, based upon many different factors, whether it is volume or location or whether it is on a fault line, or how deep that disposal well goes into the earth itself.
“Oklahoma recognizes there is an earthquake problem in our state,” Fallin continued. “We’re trying to actively deal with it, come up with solutions and make sure they are based on scientific fact. That helps develop a response plan to address this problem and ensure that homeowners and business owners and agencies are all working together.”
Producer-director Taylor Mullins, was an OU film studies graduate student when he made the documentary. It focused on the dramatic rise of man-made earthquakes and reactions from concerned citizens and scientific experts.
Statements from those in the oil and gas sector and politicians have often been reported, but now the public will hear from Oklahomans who are actually experiencing these earthquakes.
One such voice is fracking earthquake fighter Angela Spotts from Stillwater. The film follows her and the grassroots organization Stop Fracking Payne County (SFPC), which she co-founded, as they work for safer zoning regulations and raise awareness about the dangers of manmade earthquakes.
After Spotts, a certified ophthalmic technician, retired and moved to the country, she never expected to become a national and international spokesperson until earthquakes triggered by wastewater disposal wells began to shake her home on a daily basis in the northeast area of Oklahoma.
“The people of Oklahoma did not pick the fight we are in — it came exploding and shaking into our lives,” Spotts said. “You don’t have to be an activist to realize it is immoral for the oil and gas industry to keep causing man-made earthquakes that damage our property, compromise our health and destroy our lives.
“It is time we say enough is enough and we are not going to take it anymore!” she added.
Spotts will talk about her experiences at the November 17 event.
Oklahoma Sierra Club and SFPC will host the free event, which is the first Oklahoma screening of the documentary. Donations will be accepted.
Environmental leader Ariel Ross, another SFPS charter member, will discuss her upcoming trip to the 2015 Paris Climate Conference.
The goal of the conference, known as COP21, is for nearly 200 nations to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C.
Oklahoma Sierra Club Chair Barbara VanHanken said, “In addition to screening ‘Oklahoma Shakedown,’ we want the audience to make the connection between fossil fuel production which triggers earthquakes in Oklahoma and climate disruption and severe weather — therefore, the need for the Paris Climate Talks.”
The “Oklahoma Shakedown” trailer can be viewed here: http://tinyurl.com/qbsd6bq.
The US Geological Survey found that since late 2009, the rate of magnitude 3 or larger earthquakes in north-central Oklahoma has soared nearly 300 times higher than in previous decades. Before 2009, the maximum number measured in any year was 167 in 1995. By 2014, the number of earthquakes increased to more than 5,000 with more than 6,000 estimated for 2015.
On November 2, Oklahoma Sierra Club and Public Justice, an attorney advocacy group, filed a notice of intent to sue in federal district court against SandRidge Energy Inc., Devon Energy Corp., Chesapeake Energy Corp and New Dominion LLC under the federal Resource and Recovery Act, a 1975 law that allows citizen lawsuits over hazardous waste.
The notice states, “…more than 60 percent of the high-rate wells – 12 million gallons or more – were linked to nearby earthquakes” and “of the 45 wells that pump the most saltwater [waste] at the fastest rate, 34 of them – more than three out of four—were linked to nearby quakes.”
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