By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
On Tuesday, February 23, consumer advocate and environmental activist Erin Brockovich will participate in a public earthquake forum hosted by Oklahoma State Rep. Richard Morrissette (D-Oklahoma City). The event will take place at the University of Central Oklahoma Constitution Hall from 4:30 – 6:30 p.m.
During the forum panelists will discuss Oklahoma’s recent earthquakes, the connection to disposal wells, and how this could impact the state’s water supply.
Brockovich will be addressing her concerns regarding water supply contamination.
Other panelists include Scott Poynter; Poynter Law Group, Johnson Bridgwater, director of the Oklahoma Chapter of the Sierra Club; Robert Jackman, petroleum geologist and Casey Camp-Horinek, Ponca Tribal Council member and a long-time Native rights activist, environmentalist and actress. A consultant with the law firm of Weitz & Luxenberg of New York will also participate.
Brockovich will speak at two events on Wednesday, February 24, including a press conference at the State Capitol at 8:30 a.m. hosted by Rep. Morrissette.
That same day a third forum arranged by the Ponca Tribe will take place at the Northern Oklahoma College Renfro Center in Tonkawa at noon. Speakers will include Bridgwater and Camp Horinek.
Brockovich is best known for her involvement in one of the largest direct action lawsuits in U.S. history against utility giant PG&E on behalf of 600 residents of Hinkley, California. The $333 million settlement they received is the largest of its kind in U.S. history.
Her story is the subject of the award winning 2000 film ‘Erin Brockovich,” in which she was portrayed by actress Julia Roberts.
Brockovich has continued her activist work through her involvement in numerous successful lawsuits against environmental polluters as well as ongoing lawsuits involving automobiles, pharmaceuticals and medical devices.
As president of Brockovich Research & Consulting and in partnership with Google She curates an online crowd-sourced map intended to track possible environmental health hazards around the world.
Brockovich posted on her Facebook page, “I am looking forward to my visit to Oklahoma. Bob (her husband) and I will both be there to talk about the fact that the Oil & Gas Industry intends to shake the people to their core. The property damage that has already been caused coupled with having to live in constant fear must be dealt with immediately and fairly.”
Recently western Oklahoma experienced the third-largest earthquake in recorded state history registering a magnitude of 5.1 northwest of Fairview, according to the Oklahoma Geological Survey.
The website earthquakes.ok.gov states that Oklahoma experienced 907 magnitude 3+ earthquakes in 2015, 585 magnitude 3+ earthquakes in 2014 and 109 in 2013.
On the heels of the Fairview quake, Sierra Club and Public Justice have filed a federal lawsuit against three energy companies – New Dominion, Chesapeake Operating and Devon Energy Production Company – engaged in hydraulic fracturing in Oklahoma, alleging that production waste from fracking and oil production have contributed to an alarming increase in earthquake activity in the state.
As a first step, the suit demands the companies, “reduce, immediately and substantially, the amounts of production waste they are injecting into the ground.”
“Until modern-day fracking kicked up its heels in 2009, Oklahoma had never seen more than a couple earthquakes a year – now, we have a dozen a day,” said Bridgwater.
“Oklahomans, just as all Americans do, deserve the right to live in peace and comfort – not to live in fear of man-made earthquakes. It is our hope that these three companies will recognize the immediate danger they are putting communities in, and put our health and our environment ahead of its profits.”
The suit seeks an order requiring the companies to reinforce vulnerable structures, which could be impacted by large magnitude earthquakes. It also asks the court to require the establishment of an independent earthquake monitoring and prediction center.
The earthquake forum is free and open to the public, with the exception of parking. Seating is limited.
For more information, contact Jacklyn Brink-Rosen at 405-557-7404.