A pair of environmental groups is suing three oil drilling companies over their responsibility for thousands of earthquakes in Oklahoma.
Devon Energy Corp., Chesapeake Energy Corp. and New Dominion all using hydraulic fracturing on Oklahoma to drill for oil and inject the wastewater underground, which has been identified as the leading cause of the recent growth in earthquakes in the state.
The Sierra Club and Public Justice filed the lawsuit Tuesday in federal court, saying they want the companies to be held responsible for the damage from the quakes, including a 5.1 magnitude on Saturday.
“The science laid out in our case is clear. Oklahoma may be on the verge of experiencing a strong and potentially catastrophic earthquake,” Paul Bland, executive director of Public Justice, said in a statement.
“This lawsuit, which we filed after the three companies named in our suit refused to take steps of their own, is an action brought by residents of Oklahoma in an attempt to protect their property, their communities and their lives,” he said.
“Oklahomans, just as all Americans do, deserve the right to live in peace and comfort — not to live in fear of man-made earthquakes,” said Johnson Bridgwater, Director of Sierra Club’s Oklahoma chapter. “It is our hope that these three companies will recognize the immediate danger they are putting communities in, and put our health and our environment ahead of its profits.”
After years of outside researchers making the link, Oklahoma formally concluded last year that wastewater injections were causing earthquakes.
The state now asks energy companies to avoid or reduce injections near known faults, but regulators have not tried to enforce those requests.
Devon and Chesapeake did not respond to requests for comment from the Oklahoman Tuesday, and New Dominion could not be reached, the newspaper said.