Report: Federal Scientists Feared Oklahomans Got Bad Info From State On Earthquakes

Friday, May 6th 2016, 4:35 pm
By: News On 6

StateImpact, a project from Oklahoma NPR stations, is reporting that federal researchers believe Oklahomans were getting bad information from officials in regards to the state’s record number of earthquakes.

According to a StateImpact investigation, federal researchers feared Oklahomans were getting inaccurate information and inadequate warnings from state government scientists and officials tasked with studying and responding to a surge of earthquakes linked to oil and gas activity.

Joe Wertz of StateImpact reports:

"A chorus of USGS researchers found statements issued by the Oklahoma Geological Survey from 2012 to 2015 to contain incorrect and misleading information and guidance. For years, the Oklahoma agency emphasized the possibility that natural forces were responsible for the earthquake uptick.

"They just had a different perspective,” Williams said about OGS leadership at the time. “They were more likely to think the earthquakes were not caused by disposal of fluids in wells."

Federal scientists thought this was misguided. They wanted the state to issue more serious warnings about the possibility for more severe shaking, a point of contention as the two agencies drafted a joint statement released in May 2014.

...The OGS resisted, the emails show."

Click here to read the complete investigation by StateImpact

The U.S. Geological Survey shows the number earthquakes in Oklahoma has increased every year since 2009 with more than 2,000 at a magnitude 3 and above. 

The vast majority of those earthquakes are small, causing little or no damage. But what they lack in punch, they make up in sheer volume. 

CBS will take a look at Oklahoma's "Earthquake Epidemic" on Sunday at 6 p.m.