Federal judge dismisses lawsuit against Oklahoma energy companies

Apr 11, 2017

The incredible flurry of (mostly small) earthquakes in Oklahoma has been clustered around areas of wastewater injection in deep disposal wells (shown in warm colors).
Credit ARS TECHNICA

A federal judge last week moved to dismiss a lawsuit that environmental group Sierra Club filed against Oklahoma energy companies over earthquakes linked to oil and gas activity.

As KOSU reports, the Sierra Club filed the lawsuit last year in hopes the U.S. court would find Chesapeake Energy, Devon Energy and New Dominion violated federal waste management laws by operating injection wells that contributed to earthquake activity in the state.

The environmental group wanted the court to impose limits on injection wells, set up an independent earthquake monitoring center and force the energy firms to pay to reinforce vulnerable buildings.

In dismissing the case, U.S. District Court Judge Stephen Friot said earthquake regulation should be handled by state agencies and courts and said the Oklahoma Corporation Commission has the technical expertise and has already responded to the earthquake boom by issuing regulatory actions.

In a statement, Public Justice, the law firm that represented the Sierra Club in the suit, said it was disappointed with the dismissal and will consider re-filing the Sierra Club’s lawsuit if the state backtracks on its earthquake response.