Public Hearing On Oklahoma Earthquakes Held At State Capitol

Friday, January 15th 2016, 6:55 pm
By: News 9

Rumbling from earthquakes was replaced by grumbling over earthquakes Friday at the State Capitol, as citizens came out en masse to express their concerns over the state's response to an unprecedented increase in seismicity.

Less than 24 hours earlier, a large crowd attended a town hall meeting on earthquakes at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond.

1/14/15 Related Story: Edmond Earthquake Town Hall Meeting Gets Heated

Friday’s public hearing, organized by Rep. Richard Morrissette, D-Oklahoma City, opened in one of the House conference rooms, but had to be moved into the House chamber to accommodate everyone.

Many of those who came say they are frustrated by what they perceive as a lack of action by state leaders,

"I think the state's response, honestly, has been nil," said John Vaught, who lives in Edmond.

Vaught said he came because he wanted to see who, if anyone, was ready to do something -- anything -- about the strong earthquakes now shaking the metro.

"I just covered my head," said Vaught, describing his reaction to the 4.3 magnitude quake that hit Edmond a few weeks ago. "I thought the house was going to come in."

Vaught said the quakes haven't done any significant damage to his house yet, but they have damaged his quality of life.

"It's something that starts to nag at you 24 hours a day," said Vaught, "because you don't know when the next one's coming or how severe it's gonna be."

Experts who spoke at the hearing explained that science has established a clear connection between increased disposal of wastewater in Oklahoma and the increase in earthquakes.

It's a conclusion that is hitting home with an increasing number of people.

"We started getting hammered with earthquakes," said Cathy Wallace, "and they hit the faults that are pretty much under my house."

Wallace's house is in Irving, Texas. She drove three hours to Friday’s hearing because she's hoping north Texas can learn from Oklahoma.