On Feb. 16 the Sierra Club filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma against oil and gas drillers Chesapeake Operating LLC, Devon Energy Production Co. and New Dominion LLC.1
The Sierra Club claims that wastewater injection wells have contributed to cause increased earthquake activity in Oklahoma and alleges that, because "no government body is currently taking a holistic or proactive view of waste injection and its potential to induce earthquakes," a court order is needed to require the establishment of an independent earthquake monitoring and prediction center to determine the amount of production waste that can be injected into specific wells before seismic activity occurs.
The suit also seeks an injunction ordering the three defendants to reduce the amounts of production waste being injected underground "to levels that seismologists believe will not cause or contribute to increased earthquake activity."
The Sierra Club action followed an earlier lawsuit filed by 14 residents of Edmond, Oklahoma, against a dozen oil and gas companies. The plaintiffs in that suit claimed that saltwater disposal wells were in part to blame for the 4.3 and 4.2 magnitude earthquakes that struck near Edmond on Dec. 20 and Jan. 1.2 Two other cases involving a personal injury and a property damage claim are also making their way through the Oklahoma state courts. Those cases stem from a 5.6 magnitude quake in 2011 near the town of Prague.
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