Oklahoma finally orders wastewater wells shut down after earthquake


Click to enlargeDavid Bitton/AP

Steve Gibson, of Pawnee, takes photos of damage

❝ Oklahoma officials have ordered 37 wastewater disposal wells shut down after a 5.6-magnitude earthquake struck the state on Saturday, equal to the strongest in the state’s history.

Governor Mary Fallin declared a state of emergency after the earthquake, which caused damage to buildings around north-central Oklahoma and could be felt as far away as Dallas and Chicago…

❝ The Oklahoma Corporation Commission ordered the shutdown of wastewater wells in a radius of about 500 square miles around the epicenter of the earthquake. “We estimate that at any one time, there are about 3,200 active disposal wells,” commission spokesman Matt Skinner said.

❝ Five months ago, US officials warned Oklahoma that the wastewater wells used for natural gas drilling were linked to an increase in earthquakes in the state, parts of which are now as likely to suffer tremors as northern California. There are about 4,200 total wells across the state and about 700 in a 15,000-square-mile “area of interest” in the area that includes the epicenter of Saturday’s temblor, near Pawnee…

❝ An increase in magnitude 3.0 or greater earthquakes in Oklahoma has been linked to underground disposal of wastewater from oil and natural gas production, and since 2013, the commission has asked wastewater-well owners to reduce disposal volumes in parts of the state where the temblors have been most frequent.

Disaster is about the only way to get the attention of the latest flavor of conservative politicians. Now that seawater is often knee-deep in coastal cities, Republican mayors begin to “recognize” that climate science really does apply to the United States. The same is beginning to happen to Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats in states dependent upon fossil fuel barons for a significant chunk of their budget.

19th Century minds are occasionally dragged into reality. Especially when it hurts.

Oklahoma limits oil and gas wells to fight quakes

Facing a six-year barrage of increasingly large earthquakes, Oklahoma regulators are effectively ordering the state’s powerful oil-and-gas industry to substantially cut back the underground disposal of industry wastes that have caused the tremors across the state.

…The state Corporation Commission asked well operators in a Connecticut-size patch of central Oklahoma to reduce by 40 percent the amount of oil and gas wastes they are injecting deep into the earth. The directive covers 411 injection wells in a rough circle that includes Oklahoma City and points northeast…

The directives were phrased as requests, because the Corporation Commission’s legal authority to order cutbacks over such broad areas is unclear. The commission has come close to legal battles over the issue twice this year, and a third challenge would not be a surprise. The commission has pledged to take to court any operator that refuses to carry out the reductions…

The new orders come after three of the largest quakes in the state’s history, 4.7, 4.8 and 5.1-magnitude shocks that rocked a major oil field this year.

In 2010, when the tremors began, Oklahoma recorded three earthquakes at or above a magnitude of 3. Last year, it had 907. So far in 2016, it has had nearly 160.

Although critics contend that earthquakes have caused millions of dollars of damage, Oklahoma’s political leaders have long been reluctant to impose restrictions on an industry that dominates the state’s economy. Until last spring, Gov. Mary Fallin, a Republican, maintained that the cause of the tremors was unclear, and the state Legislature refused to consider legislation addressing the issue

Seismologists have long warned that the rise in the number of earthquakes in Oklahoma could presage a temblor that could cause extensive damage.

Corrupt politics still tend to be described in terms avoiding depicting the crooks and politicians involved as the source of corruption. Somehow, they create a milieu that mysteriously condemns a whole state to environmental disaster, an economic swamp wholly dependent on the profit system of a monoculture. Hogwash.

BTW, here’s another “feel sorry for the bastards who aren’t making millions this week” article from Bloomberg. We’re supposed to feel sorry for politicians who live in one of the posh communities now affected by the quakes. They bought those homes with their share of criminal profits. They condemned the state of Oklahoma to a monocultural economy — part of the swath of oil fiefdoms stretching from Louisiana to New Mexico.

They should be forced to take up pick and shovel and do the grunt work of sealing the wastewater wells. Do a little honest work for a change.

Oklahoma Republican politics means you don’t have to obey the president – but, you do have to obey the governor!

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin signed a bill into law Monday that passes a statewide ban on raising the minimum wage and prohibits cities from legislating to establish mandatory employee benefits like vacations or sick leave…Opponents view the law as retaliation against grass roots organizers gathering signatures in the capital to raise the city’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10.

After Fallin signed the bill, her office released a statement claiming that “most minimum-wage workers are young, single people working part-time or entry-level jobs.”

Fallen said, “Mandating an increase in the minimum wage would require businesses to fire many of those part-time workers. It would create a hardship for small business owners, stifle job creation and increase costs for consumers.”

You decide if she’s ignorant or a liar. The average minimum wage earner is a single mom in her 30’s.

A major paper published last year covered by the Washington Post found that economists agree that raising the minimum wage actually reduces poverty.

Reducing poverty is one of those goals that you never hear addressed by Republicans except as some kind of supposed inevitability from their favorite dribble-down economics. Which hasn’t worked anywhere on Earth, yet.

They will get righteous about protecting profits, though.

6 Confederate states say they have a right to be bigots


Click to enlarge

On the morning of Sept. 3, the first day the Pentagon said they could, Alicia Butler and her spouse, Judith Chedville, who is a Texas Army National Guard officer, went to Austin’s Camp Mabry so Ms. Butler could get a military spouse identification card and register for the same federal marriage benefits provided to wives and husbands of heterosexual service members.

The two women handed a sheaf of official papers, including their 2008 California marriage license, to a clerk who glanced at the documents and declared, “It’s one of those.” She then called over her boss, who told the couple that they would have to travel to a federal military base like Fort Hood, 70 miles to the north, to get the ID, Ms. Butler recalled.

The reason: Texas is one of six states refusing to comply with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s order that gay spouses of National Guard members be given the same federal marriage benefits as heterosexual spouses. Mr. Hagel’s decree followed the Supreme Court’s ruling in June striking down part of the Defense of Marriage Act that had prohibited the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages…

But the six states are violating federal law, Mr. Hagel told an audience recently. “It causes division among the ranks, and it furthers prejudice,” he said. Mr. Hagel has demanded full compliance, but Pentagon officials have not said what steps they would take with states that do not fall in line…

The military grants a range of significant benefits to the spouses of active-duty guardsmen, including the right to enroll in the military’s health insurance program and to obtain a higher monthly housing allowance. Spouse IDs allow unescorted access to bases with their lower-priced commissaries.

RTFA if you think you’re going to find new lies to supplement those offered when bigots used the States Rights defense in their attempt to maintain segregation and all the other crimes of racism.

Civil Rights under the US Constitution have always been a class of laws where federal law eventually and appropriately takes precedence. Hypocrites and liars like Rick Perry and Mary Fallin, the governors of Texas and Oklahoma and their backwards peers vacillate between hatred and cowardice in their excuses. Nothing new to offer. The facts remain the same. Homophobia is just one more ignoranus crime against constitutional democracy and should be dealt with as such.

Native American tribes ignore Oklahoma ban on gay marriage

Two gay men are getting married under Native American tribal law in Oklahoma, apparently circumventing a state law that does not allow same-sex unions.

Activists said the marriage advances the cause of gay rights in a state that has blocked federal benefits for same-sex military couples in the past.

Jason Pickel, 36, and Darren Black Bear, 45, who have been together for more than eight years, were planning a trip to Iowa to get married. But they changed their minds when the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes allowed them to pick up a marriage license on Friday in the tribes’ courthouse after the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was struck down, Pickel told Al Jazeera.

“I proposed to Darren several years ago, and we were planning an elaborate wedding,” he said. “Now,” he added, “we decided the time was right. I’m so happy; it’s just amazing.”

Lisa Liebl, the tribes’ public relations officer, told Al Jazeera in an email, “This is the 3rd same-sex couple to be issued a marriage license by the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes.”

According to their legal code, the candidates should be married on sovereign land and one should be a member of the tribes, but a marriage license should not specify a couple’s gender. The code reflects the respect enshrined in some Native American communities for gay individuals, who are often believed to be endowed with special spiritual gifts…

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