OKLAHOMA CITY — When Jackie Dill bought her home in Coyle a decade ago, she didn’t realize it was on top of a fault line.
She blames an earthquake for causing one side of her house to sink 3 inches below the rest.
With no earthquake insurance — and no opportunity to get coverage now because of the damage — Dill said she’s spent her savings trying to shore up her home.
“Most likely, my house is a total loss,” she said. “Every time after an earthquake, we go and do what we call a house check and see how much more is cracked.”
Dill, like many of the 200 people who attended a hearing at the Capitol on Friday, is convinced the oil and gas industry is responsible. Its wastewater disposal wells are blamed for a spike in earthquakes in Oklahoma.
“I think they should have had all the scientific evidence behind them before they ever put a hole in the ground,” she said.
But little has been resolved, and anger is growing among residents who complained bitterly Friday that lawmakers haven't done more to protect them from the temblors.
Those who attended the hearing complained bitterly that the Legislature is reluctant to act. They criticized Oklahoma Corporation Commission, charged with regulating the oil and gas industry, as being slow to respond.
They slammed the state Insurance Department for failing to make sure their claims are covered, and they blasted Gov. Mary Fallin for not taking time Friday to listen to their concerns.
Two law firms — one from Oklahoma City, the other from Little Rock — worked the public forum sponsored by state Democrats on the floor of the state House , handing out green fliers with their contact information.
Dill said their pitch is too late; she's already hired a lawyer.
Fallin spokesman Michael McNutt issued a statement in response to the criticism of the governor, saying she spent Friday “conducting the state’s business" and was focused on the state economy.
“The governor is not just talking about earthquakes, she continues to work on finding solutions," he said, noting Fallin created the Coordinating Council on Seismic Activity more than a year ago to develop a response to the earthquake activity.
“There is no need for the governor to intervene at this time,” he said.
Matt Skinner, an OCC spokesman, said the state’s seismicity rate started to spike in 2012. Last year, more than 900 quakes of at least magnitude 3.0 rattled Oklahoma.
The agency is taking steps to minimize the temblors by regulating how much wastewater is pumped into the ground, how deeply and where, he said.
Ultimately, Skinner said, state leaders must commit resources to pinpoint causes of the earthquakes.
Rep. Richard Morrissette, D-Oklahoma City, suggested a solution to the problem would be a tax on every barrel of fluid injected into the ground. The money would be put into a reparation fund to assist residents affected by the earthquakes.
Morrissette also suggested reforming insurance standards and limiting how much wastewater companies can dispose of each year.
Kim Hatfield, president of Crawley Petroleum and a member of Fallin’s Coordinating Council on Seismic Activity, questioned that approach.
“I understand that reparations fund sounds attractive, but the ultimate solution is we’ve got to stop the shaking,” he said.
Hatfield didn’t speak at the meeting but sat quietly in the back. He did not attend a hearing on the same topic the night before in Edmond, which he described as an “infomercial for attorneys to recruit clients.”
Hatfield said some meetings about the earthquake outbreak are not especially informative.
"People are coming to air agendas and express concerns, but there’s not necessarily a whole lot of illumination that is going on, and that’s a concern,” he said.
Hatfield said oil and gas companies have been injecting wastewater into the ground for more than 70 years, without problems, until the past few years.
Something changed, he said, but scientists can’t agree on what it is.
“Until we understand the mechanism, it’s hard to know what change will be effective,” Hatfield said.
The industry is mapping fault lines, he said, and proposing to monitor pressure in the Arbuckle formation in hopes of finding a solution.
“This is the type of data that will start to answer these questions on how we can operate safely,” he said.