The earthquake in Oklahoma on Sunday that damaged dozens of buildings near the pipeline epicenter of Cushing is further proof that fossil fuel extraction activities are too dangerous to continue, environmentalists said Monday.
Oklahoma, which has seen a rapid increase in earthquakes that scientists have linked back to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, was hit with a magnitude-5.0 event on Sunday, with tremors being felt as far away as Arkansas and Missouri. Officials said 40 to 50 buildings had been damaged, and some gas leaks were reported; although they have since been contained, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission ordered all pipeline companies under its jurisdiction to pause operations, EcoWatch wrote.
Sunday’s event was the 19th earthquake to occur in Oklahoma in a week, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), although it was only the third to register above 5.0 on the Richter scale.
Still, said the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), that’s about 19 too many.
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“We don’t need a major earthquake that claims lives and costs millions in damage to tell us the rapid increase in fracking and wastewater injection in Oklahoma and neighboring states is the cause,” said the group’s public lands campaigner Taylor McKinnon. “The USGS has already linked seismic activity to wastewater disposal associated with fracking and has raised the risk for damaging quakes in Oklahoma and Kansas.”
CBD in May called on the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to cancel 11 pending oil and gas leases in Oklahoma over earthquake risks. On Monday, the group made that call again, “before more serious harm occurs.”
“It’s only a matter of time until these increasing quakes cause catastrophic damage,” McKinnon added. “Alongside the worsening climate crisis, earthquakes are yet another reason that President [Barack] Obama should end the federal fossil fuel leasing programs now.”
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