In his Aug. 17 letter, Oil and Gas Commissioner Classen suggests injection wells for oil and gas wastewater disposal are “unlikely” to increase earthquake activity in Idaho as has happened elsewhere. With all due respect, it was highly “unlikely” that Oklahoma would experience increased earthquake activity when they started injecting in 2009, yet the number of quakes measuring at least 3.0 skyrocketed from two per year to 900-plus in 2015 alone. Limiting volumes and pressures of injection fluids has not “resolved these problems,” as Classen asserts, although it lowered that statistic to “only” 623 quakes last year.
Before you applaud that drop, consider that major insurance companies are now refusing to cover earthquake damages caused by any facet of this industry across the U.S. — yet another example of the petroleum industry externalizing their costs to taxpayers. Governor Otter is aggressively pursuing the EPA for an injection program here; and operating at “shallow depths” will only increase the threat of contaminating our precious, irreplaceable drinking water aquifers. Classen’s last line says it all: They are seeking the cheapest way to dispose of massive amounts of chemical-laden, radioactive “produced water” so industry and stakeholders can profit, while Idaho citizens shoulder the risks. No thanks.
Jane Rohling, Eagle