At home, if a neighbor is making too much noise, the police can cite them for disturbing the peace. But what happens when a neighboring state is the one causing the disruptions?
When we feel the ground shake in central Kansas, lately itís most likely been an earthquake centered in Oklahoma. Folks here are getting used to the shaking, with earthquakes in this region increasing the past five years. But weíre seeing improvements in this state. Following early scientific studies, Kansas passed new regulations to limit the wastewater disposed back into the ground from oil and gas exploration, which is believed to be the cause of the quakes.
Oklahoma didnít follow Kansasí lead, and earthquakes are becoming more common there. That state felt more earthquakes just this month than for the entire year in 2012. As of Monday, Oklahoma had reported 88 earthquakes of a 2.7 magnitude or higher Ė the smallest measured accurately Ė just this month. At least five more have been recorded since then, according to the quake tracker map The News set up at KansasQuakes.com to report events as theyíre confirmed.
The restrictions seem to work. Kansas earthquakes have decreased from about 11 a month to an average of three, according to an analysis by The Associated Press. But the ones in Oklahoma are felt even in Kansas. Theyíve left Oklahomans without power and have people here wondering about the damage or effects on their homes from the earth shaking.
State sovereignty is good. In Kansas, we donít want other states telling us what to do, and we donít like meddling in Oklahomaís business. We realize gas and oil production are mainstays of the Oklahoma economy. But thatís changing, as across the U.S. weíre looking to wind and solar to provide more sustainable sources of energy.
Oklahomaís inaction is disrupting the lives of Kansans, so we donít mind asking them to look at the science. It shows volume and rate of injections of wastewater in oil and gas drilling are the main problem. Kansas and Oklahoma have exactly the same geology. Itís worked in Kansas. It can work in Oklahoma.
Itís a good bet Kansas wonít have to make much noise, because Oklahomans will tire of the shaking and take action themselves. Hundreds turned out last week at two public meetings to challenge lawmakers.
The Oklahoma legislative session begins Feb. 1. Oklahoma should decide to move public policy in a quieter direction.
Frankly, itís disturbing our peace.