Oilfield Prayer Day was met with protests Friday morning. A group of concerned citizens gathered outside the Oklahoma Corporation Commission to voice their opinions.
Commissioner Bob Anthony came out to listen, explain and answer questions. The protesters' biggest concerns are continuing earthquakes as well as the contamination of water sources.
Last Oct. 13, Governor Mary Fallin declared the first Oilfield Prayer Day, asking Christians to pray for the natural resource that built the state's economy.
Native Americans and environmentalists point out that disturbing that natural resource has led to a number of problems. “Our government is so deeply tied and intrinsically connected to Big Oil, that they are asking us to pray for the thing that is destroying our land, our water, our air and our communities,” one of the protest organizers said.
Anthony stepped up to empathize with the protesters, saying, “We need to protect the fresh water in Oklahoma.” He also defended the commission’s actions and the process they use to make decisions.
One protester demanded, “We want to know what you’re going to do about it because what you’re doing at this point is not enough and we are not accepting this anymore.”
Anthony responded, “There are parts of Oklahoma where there are, essentially, not earthquakes, so we have to go place by place.”
Anthony reiterated the ongoing research by scientists to determine what exactly is causing seismic activity. Many earthquakes have been linked to wastewater injection, and protesters argue that is a direct link to fracking. “You don’t have to spend time investigating every place,” one protester said. “You just have to make the decision that fracking is bad for our water and for our environment and stop it.”
The OCC treats wells as an individual's property, which is why Anthony says any action against them is determined on a case by case basis.