Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

There are only a few days left in our critical Mid-Year Campaign and we truly might not make it without your help.
Please join us. If you rely on independent media, support Common Dreams today. This is crunch time. We need you now.

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

An oil pump jack in Oklahoma. (Photo: jbpribanic/public herald/cc/flickr)

An oil pump jack in Oklahoma. (Photo: jbpribanic/public herald/cc/flickr)

In Step with Texas, Oklahoma Poised to Outlaw Local Drilling Bans

In the face of public outcry and mounting evidence linking fracking to earthquake activity, state lawmakers advance bill

Lauren McCauley

Despite mounting scientific evidence that fracking is increasing seismic activity in the state, Oklahoma legislators are poised to pass legislation preventing municipalities from passing local bans on drilling operations.

Senate Bill 468 would overturn an 80-year-old statute and explicitly prohibits local regulation of certain oil and gas activities—even if such regulation is approved by Oklahoma voters.

Following the lead of Texas lawmakers, who on Monday passed a law forbidding towns or cities from enacting local restrictions on any gas or oil drilling operations, both the Oklahoma House and Senate passed SB 468 with strong majority support. The bill now awaits changes in the Senate before advancing.

Outside of a few specific areas including noise and traffic regulation, SB 468 says that municipalities "may not otherwise regulate, prohibit, or ban any oil and gas operations, including oil and gas exploration, drilling, fracture stimulation, completion, production, maintenance, plugging and abandonment, produced water disposal, or secondary recovery operations. Such operations are subject to the exclusive jurisdiction and regulation of the Corporation Commission."

"The legislature has basically sent a message which is: we're going to continue enabling the industry," Ed Shadid, a city councilman in Oklahoma City, told Reuters.

At the same time, a growing body of evidence linking an increase in earthquakes in the state to fracking operations is driving public outcry in Oklahoma.

A coalition of local environmental and public health groups on Monday delivered 1,500 signatures to Republican Gov. Mary Fallin calling for a "moratorium on the use of high-volume, high pressure disposals wells in 16 counties that the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, which regulates the oil and gas industry, has identified as 'areas of interest' because of earthquake activity," AP reports.

"Oklahoma is now the earthquake capital of America. How did this happen?" said Barbara Van Hanken, co-founder of Clean Energy Future Oklahoma and chair of the Oklahoma Sierra Club.

Last month, scientists at the Oklahoma Geological Survey issued a statement (pdf) saying it is "very likely that the majority of recent earthquakes, particularly those in central and north-central Oklahoma are triggered by the injection of produced water in disposal wells."

Scientists with the OGS estimate that the state had 585 earthquakes of magnitude-3 or greater in 2014 alone, and is on track to have more than 800 this year, compared with an annual average of one to three quakes prior to 2009.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

Just a few days left in our crucial Mid-Year Campaign and we might not make it without your help.
Who funds our independent journalism? Readers like you who believe in our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. No corporate advertisers. No billionaire founder. Our non-partisan, nonprofit media model has only one source of revenue: The people who read and value this work and our mission. That's it.
And the model is simple: If everyone just gives whatever amount they can afford and think is reasonable—$3, $9, $29, or more—we can continue. If not enough do, we go dark.

All the small gifts add up to something otherwise impossible. Please join us today. Donate to Common Dreams. This is crunch time. We need you now.

Democrats Lose Senate Majority as 82-Year-Old Leahy Heads for Hip Surgery

"It could be over for the Senate Dems now," said one policy expert in response. "This could mean they effectively lost their majority."

Jon Queally ·


US Supreme Court Drops Carbon Bomb on the Planet

One Democratic senator warned the high court's right-wing majority "could unleash a new era of reckless deregulation that will gut protections for all Americans and the environment."

Jake Johnson ·


'Massive Betrayal': Biden Cuts Deal With McConnell to Nominate Anti-Abortion Judge

"At a time when we are fighting to protect human rights, this is a complete slap in the face."

Jake Johnson ·


Jan. 6 Panel Subpoenas Trump White House Counsel Pat Cipollone

Noting his refusal to cooperate beyond an informal April interview, the committee's chair said that "we are left with no choice."

Jessica Corbett ·


Sanders Pushes Back Against AIPAC Super PAC With Endorsements of Tlaib and Levin

"Once again, these extremists are pouring millions of dollars into a congressional race to try to ensure the Democratic Party advances the agenda of powerful corporations and the billionaire class."

Brett Wilkins ·

Common Dreams Logo