Stillwater — Oklahoma scientists need to determine if there is a correlation between earthquake activity and oil and natural gas drilling before she would consider a ban on fracking or injection drilling, Gov. Mary Fallin told Stillwater residents Monday.
The Republican governor spent the day in Stillwater, helping Oklahoma State University launch its OSU Teach program, meeting with Stillwater Chamber of Commerce leaders and city officials, holding a town hall meeting and speaking to an Oklahoma State University political science class.
She discussed the state’s economy, common and higher education, the Affordable Care Act, state Capitol renovation and issues facing Oklahoma and state legislators this session.
However, it was clear earthquakes were on the minds of Stillwater residents. Stillwater Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Lisa Navrkal asked two audience submitted questions related to earthquakes.
It may have been fresh on residents’ minds because two small quakes occurred near Stillwater Monday morning. A magnitude 3.0 quake was recorded at 9:47 a.m., eight miles east of Stillwater, according to the United States Geological Society.
It was preceded by a 3.3-magnitude quake at 9:11 a.m. It was located seven miles east of Stillwater. Both occurred at a depth of 3.1 miles.
“There’s a lot of debate about the earthquakes we have seen in Oklahoma and fracking itself, but more specifically about disposal wells and how they work,” Fallin said.
Hydraulic fracturing isn’t new. Its history dates back to the 1940s. The process wasn’t widely adopted by the energy industry and used on a massive scale until 2003.
The state has put together a team comprised of the Oklahoma Geological Society and energy-related businesses, which is determining if there is a relationship between fracking and earthquakes, the governor said.
“We will leave that discussion up to the scientists and geologists who understand it,” Fallin said.
The energy sector is important to the economy of Oklahoma, Fallin said. Many Oklahomans rely for the energy sector for jobs.
When asked if she would support a ban or moratorium on injection wells, Fallin said, “I think we need to leave that up to the experts. ... It’s something the experts need to give us their advice on, and let them make that decision and give us the information before we decide anything.”