Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Sunday's earthquake damaged 40-50 buildings, officials said. (Photo: AP)

Oklahoma Earthquake Shows Fracking's Potential for "Serious Harm"

"We don't need a major earthquake that claims lives and costs millions in damage to tell us the rapid increase in fracking...is the cause"

Nadia Prupis

The earthquake in Oklahoma on Sunday that damaged dozens of buildings near the pipeline epicenter of Cushing is further proof that fossil fuel extraction activities are too dangerous to continue, environmentalists said Monday.

Oklahoma, which has seen a rapid increase in earthquakes that scientists have linked back to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, was hit with a magnitude-5.0 event on Sunday, with tremors being felt as far away as Arkansas and Missouri. Officials said 40 to 50 buildings had been damaged, and some gas leaks were reported; although they have since been contained, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission ordered all pipeline companies under its jurisdiction to pause operations, EcoWatch wrote.

Sunday's event was the 19th earthquake to occur in Oklahoma in a week, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), although it was only the third to register above 5.0 on the Richter scale.

Still, said the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), that's about 19 too many.

"We don't need a major earthquake that claims lives and costs millions in damage to tell us the rapid increase in fracking and wastewater injection in Oklahoma and neighboring states is the cause," said the group's public lands campaigner Taylor McKinnon. "The USGS has already linked seismic activity to wastewater disposal associated with fracking and has raised the risk for damaging quakes in Oklahoma and Kansas."

CBD in May called on the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to cancel 11 pending oil and gas leases in Oklahoma over earthquake risks. On Monday, the group made that call again, "before more serious harm occurs."

"It's only a matter of time until these increasing quakes cause catastrophic damage," McKinnon added. "Alongside the worsening climate crisis, earthquakes are yet another reason that President [Barack] Obama should end the federal fossil fuel leasing programs now."


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

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'All of Rail Labor Is Going to Suffer': Workers Furious Over Biden Move to Preempt Strike

"This is a legacy-defining moment for Joe Biden," said Railroad Workers United. "He is going down as one of the biggest disappointments in labor history."

Jake Johnson ·


Citing Need for 'New, Inclusive Leadership,' Chuy García Files for Chicago Mayoral Race

"We have an opportunity to elect a trusted and experienced leader with a history of building coalitions and a vision for a brighter future for all Chicagoans," said the Democratic congressman.

Jessica Corbett ·


On Cyber Monday, Climate Activists Take Aim at Fashion Industry

"The fashion industry is one of the largest polluting industries globally. We can all do better, but it's on companies to make this industry better for workers, the planet, and consumers alike."

Jessica Corbett ·


Biden Accused of Selling Out Rail Workers by Urging Congress to Prevent Strike

"Biden is siding with corporate rail bosses over the rank-and-file workers who voted against this agreement," said one progressive commentator after the president urged lawmakers to take action to force through a deal without paid sick leave.

Brett Wilkins ·


Analysis Finds State Legislators Proposed 306 Bills Targeting Trans People in Past 2 Years

"Right-wing state lawmakers are obsessed with taking away the rights of trans people and we're obsessed with knocking them out of public office," said one rights group.

Julia Conley ·

Common Dreams Logo