Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Oh, What a Horrible Morning

I'm convinced that Oklahoma is the worst state to be in these days.
This past Sunday I saw a "60 Minutes" report on the growing number of earthquakes in the Sooner State thanks largely to oil and gas exploration - but not for the reason that you might think.  Hydraulic fracturing, while commonplace in other parts of the country where fossil fuels are harvested, has nothing to do with the problem in Oklahoma. What happens is that water is taken out of the ground when the fossil fuels are drilled; the water separates from the oil and gas in the process.  Then the water - a dirty, briny salt water - is pumped back into the ground, underneath the water table and into bedrock, where it erodes the bedrock and causes upheavals in the earth.  This had happened once in awhile for decades, but the number of seismic shifts in the ground spiked higher starting around 2009 when oil and gas prices went up.  It looked like things would calm down when the prices of oil and gas declined, but oil prices, at least, are climbing again.
Meanwhile, tornadoes are forming in different parts of the state, with six alone this past Monday and several incidents of hail and high wind turning houses into so much twisted wreckage.  Two people have died,and Governor Mary Fallin has declared a state of emergency.
It seems ironic that the earthquakes that are caused by oil and gas drilling and tornadoes - common in the Great Plains but possibly exacerbated by climate change - are having a huge and hugely negative impact on an area that was only settled in 1889.  One hundred and twenty-seven years are but a blink in the eye of human history.  Thus Oklahoma, a place with very little history, faces, paradoxically, an uncertain future.
And yet its senior U.S. Senator still doesn't believe in climate change, or man's ability to affect the planet in other ways. 

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