While many areas of the United States are recovering from drought conditions, there is one area which is headed deeper into extreme drought: the Northern Plains. While a series of storms in May and June caused widespread flooding and damage in Oklahoma, these storms largely missed the Dakotas and Montana. According to the most recent US Drought Monitor as of August, Montana and North Dakota were the only states in the US that had any exceptional drought. Currently, 99.59% of the Roughrider State is in some form of drought, and 43.84% of the state faces either extreme or exceptional drought. At the beginning of the calendar year, only 6.13% of the state had some form of drought, and there was no drought more severe than “abnormally dry,” the least severe drought designation.
In the first part of my series on earthquakes and fracking in Oklahoma, I wrote about the correlation between hydraulic fracturing activity in the state and the increased frequency of earthquakes. As more injection wells came online in the state to dispose of the produced fluid from fracking operations, the state saw a vast increase in the number of earthquakes, primarily centered around north-central Oklahoma. While scientists are still determining why the earthquake activity is centered in certain parts of the state, they are almost certain that there is at least some correlation between injection well operations and increased seismic activity. But what can Oklahoma do to slow or stop the frequency of these earthquakes? I will address the issue in this post. Continue reading
At 1:04 AM on the morning of June 10th, a magnitude 5.2 earthquake hit Borrego Springs, CA, in eastern San Diego County. The earthquake along the San Jacinto Fault triggered hundreds of smaller aftershocks and residents as far away as Los Angeles could feel the shaking. I live approximately 100 miles away from the epicenter, and it woke me up. The earthquake caused renewed discussions among seismologists and the media about whether “the big one” will hit any time soon. We expect earthquakes in Southern California, but when we talk about Oklahoma, it is not a place that usually comes to mind when we think of active earthquake regions in the United States. However, just one day before the magnitude 5.2 quake in California, Oklahoma experienced 3 earthquakes, the largest of which was a magnitude 3.7. These earthquakes in Oklahoma are not an isolated incident. Continue reading
Despite the fact that oil has long been nicknamed “black gold,” oil has been anything but gold as of late. Supply gluts in the United States and fighting among the OPEC countries caused a dramatic decline in crude oil prices over the last 6 months or so. As the chart below shows, crude oil prices have dropped from about $82 per barrel at the beginning of November to approximately $50 a barrel today. While US consumers enjoy lower prices at the pump, the significant drop in oil prices is causing major challenges in the industry. Continue reading