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Shale-rich Oklahoma funding earthquake research

USGS found ties between seismic activity and shale activity in the state.

By Daniel J. Graeber
Shale-rich Oklahoma funding earthquake research
Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin allocated funds to support earthquake research. USGS study finds shale industry in the state in part behind increase in seismic activity in the state. File photo by J.P. Wilson/UPI | License Photo

OKLAHOMA CITY, Jan. 29 (UPI) -- Mary Fallin, governor of emerging shale state Oklahoma, said she set aside more than $1 million in emergency funds to support earthquake research.

Fallin approved $1.38 million in one-time costs to support earthquake research to be directed by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission and the Oklahoma Geological Survey.

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"I'm committed to funding seismic research, bringing on line advanced technology and more staff to fully support our regulators at they take meaningful action on earthquakes," she said in a statement.

Fallin expressed concern last year about the increase in the number of earthquakes tied loosely to the oil and gas industry in her state. A study from the U.S. Geological Survey found the rate of seismic activity in Oklahoma has increased since 2009 at a faster rate than any other time during the 20th century.

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USGS research found "several lines of evidence" to suggest the increase was tied to oil production activities.

A magnitude 4.2 earthquake was recorded on New Year's Day in Edmond, just north of the state capital.

Earlier this month, Tim Baker, director of a state oil and gas commission, called on energy companies to reduce their well wastewater disposal volumes by as much as 50 percent in an effort to decrease seismic pressure.

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Jeremy Boak, director of the Oklahoma Geological Survey, said the newly-released funds would allow state agencies to move beyond cataloguing to outline "recommendations for remedial action to further reduce the rate and magnitude of induced earthquakes."

According to federal data, Oklahoma oil reserves represent just over 3 percent of total U.S. supply. Fallin said lower crude oil prices were in large part behind the $900.8 million hole in the state's appropriated budget.

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