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Okla. scientists suspected quakes linked to oil 8 years ago

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Mike Soraghan, E&E reporter
EnergyWire: Monday, April 27, 2015

This story was updated at 11:54 a.m. EDT.

The Oklahoma Geological Survey jolted the national drilling debate last week when it announced oil and gas activity was “very likely” causing the earthquakes plaguing the state.

But many scientists at the survey had suspected as much since 2007, when earthquakes rattled an area near an oil and gas operation in southeast Oklahoma City.

Survey leaders, though, decided against going public with a theory that might be viewed as hostile to the state’s most prominent industry, according to interviews and agency emails obtained by EnergyWire under Oklahoma’s Open Records Act.

Instead, the agency, commonly called by its initials, OGS, accepted thousands of dollars’ worth of seismic equipment from the company that scientists suspected of causing the quakes, Tulsa-based New Dominion LLC. And for years, they told the public the quakes were natural.

“The survey is currently dismissing such events as being naturally-occurring,” OGS geologist Richard Andrews, now the interim director, wrote in an email to a family member last year. “Sooner or later, the media will pick up on the real cause and create a genuine ruckus.”

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