"I will tell the people what's going on at the statehouse. I'm going to treat the capitol as a borderline crime scene. ... If businesses don't have to pay taxes, the burden should not be on those trying to feed themselves." - The Valley Falls Vindicator & Oskaloosa Independent, March 3, 2016.

Across Kansas the top 1% are looting and on-the-loose, pitting us against each other. Communities in Jefferson County need to democratically prepare themselves for food and energy autonomy.


Sunday, September 4, 2016


I was writing early Saturday morning at my printer's pulpit on the first floor of our ramshackle farmhouse when it started to creak and slightly wobble. The pulpit weighs when loaded with paper, supplies and an old typewriter at least a couple hundred pounds. At first I thought one of our dogs was banging against it, then the hanging plant above the window started swinging. It was the second earthquake felt in the 18 years since living here. The first one happened just before dawn years ago while I was upstairs in my office. Then the room swayed north and south, but this time on ground level the hanging plant swung east and west. 

The pulpit creaked for about 15 seconds, but the hanging plant kept swinging for nearly a minute.

Click image to enlarge.

Facebook meme from Kansas City

Muse the cat jumped off the clothes dryer across the room and my big dog Remus woke up and came over and leaned his full weight against my legs. He looked up at me with terror in his chocolate eyes.

My first thought was, "those damn wildcat oilmen down South. They're going to get away with it, again."

There were few news reports immediately created for television, after all, the beginning of the Labor Day holiday had just started. Who would be working in the newsrooms on a Saturday morning? I wondered how long it would take to find the reports?

I next wondered what was happening at Wolf Creek, a place I spent over a year building with thousands of others so long ago. The antiquated 30+ year old Wolf Creek Nuclear electric generation plant located in Coffey County, Ks. is just 140 miles from Pawnee, OK where the epicenter was located. I found out later the plant had been shutdown the day before due to a leak in the cooling system. It remains closed at the time of this post. How far from the comfort zone was the 5.6 earthquake that struck the next day at 7:02 Saturday morning? Reports of feeling the quake came in from North Dakota to Houston, Texas a distance of 1255 miles.

During it's construction the huge reinforced concrete pad the reactor rested on had created a sensation among us. It had a long crack in it running up and down and visibly deep after the mud had cured. It was a massive pour that took days and nights to do, and even longer to patch after the federal nuclear regulators examined it.

The tremors from the quake, with it's epicenter pictured above, according to Tyler Durden at Zero Hedge who produced the earliest and most informed report laid it squarely on the desks of the poorly regulated petroleum industry engaged in widespread fracking and deep disposal wells in the Oklahoma and Kansas areas.

Here's a few of the tweets Durden captured from the United States Geological Survey (USGS) center:

According to the USGS the quake was particularly powerful due to its shallow nature:

The depth of the quake's focus was 6.6 Km or 4.1 miles, which is fairly shallow. #okquake— USGS in Oklahoma (@USGS_Oklahoma) September 3, 2016
Earthquakes w/shallow focus depths convey more energy to the land surface. For comparison, the recent quakes in Italy started @ 10 Km depth.— USGS in Oklahoma (@USGS_Oklahoma) September 3, 2016

The USGS has said on its twitter account that it hopes the M5.6 quake is not a foreshock of a similar or larger quake.

The Prague earthquake of 2011 was preceded by a strong 4.5 M quake. Hopefully this 5.6 was not a foreshock of a similar or larger quake.— USGS in Oklahoma (@USGS_Oklahoma) September 3, 2016

Owing to Oklahoma’s dramatic rise in earthquakes and a now-undisputed link between the seismic events and oil-and-gas disposal wells, the issue has gained political prominence that it didn’t have in 2011.
It will take some work to learn how to use the filters and locate the wells but this interactive map provided by the University of Kansas is very handy in understanding just how pervasive this industry is in the state.
Pawnee, OK @boberrylll twitter

Not that any of the millions of typically conservative climate change deniers in Oklahoma, Kansas or the Red State Belt 
or for that matter, even the states' lawmakers and governors would ever study it, . They routinely make derisive jokes about climate change and the Environmental Protective Agency, and are quick to equate regulation to "big government" over-reach. I have heard none supporting rigorous regular on-site field inspections by government overseers.  

  KSN.com Stillwater, OK. courtesy @ntifft Nathan Tifft twitter.

It's not like the problem hasn't been studied for a number of years and both states' governors have initiated blue ribbon studies which as far as I can determine had some pretty lame results.

The press coverage of the disposal of the toxic sludge from fracking is as clear as the dangerous stuff it purports to report on.

As an example go to the local Oklahoma newspaper site the Guthrie News Leader from Logan County and a report by Mark Schlachtenhaufen, 
Wednesday, January 20, 2016.  He wrote: 

When fluids are pumped into a rock formation under pressure, the added pressure may lower the frictional resistance between rocks along an existing fault system, allowing the rocks to slide.
Through July 1, 2015, southern Kansas has experienced a slight reduction in seismicity attributed to state restrictions in disposal rates and volumes and the effects of lower oil prices.

On March 19, 2015, the Kansas Corporation Commission ordered a reduction of disposal volumes in portions of Harper and Sumner counties. The order targeted five areas of seismic concern by applying the Kansas Induced Seismicity Task Force's seismic action score recorded to seismicity in the areas from January 2014-February 2015. The score is part of the Seismic Action Plan initiated by Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, the Kansas Geological Survey, the Kansas Corporation Commission and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

The order called for a gradual increased limit on disposal volume for a total reduction of up to 60 percent on specified wells during a 100-day period. It directed Kansas Corporation Commission staff to work with the Kansas Geological Survey to review the data, with recommendations to the commission for further action if necessary.

A complete copy of the order (Docket N. 15-CONS-770-CMSC) can be found at kcc.ks.gov.  The Kansas Geological Survey's working hypothesis for induced seismicity is exceeded limited storage and transmissivity in the Arbuckle saline aquifer leads to far-field pressurization and leakage into the basement where faults can be critically stressed. The agency suspects the northward migration of earthquakes in south central Kansas and north central Oklahoma indicates regional fluid or pressure movement along basement faults.

So the Kansas Corporation Commission limited disposal in two counties, but what of the other counties where fracking continues across southern and western Kansas and Oklahoma?  In their order the KCC call it "saltwater" but the content of the toxic sludge like the frackers are under protection of patent laws and don't have to release the exact ingredients. Consider these fantastic numbers listed below for the two counties in that KCC order.

The increased number of recorded earthquakes in Kansas coincides with an increase in the number of injection wells and the amounts of injected saltwater in Harper and Sumner Counties. In Harper County, the number of injection wells increased from 44 in 2010 to 71 in 2013, with 18 new permit applications received in 2014. The number of barrels of saltwater injected in Harper County increased from 9,671,655 in 2010 to 51,827,349 in 2013.
The number of injection wells in Sumner County increased from 53 in 2010 to 79 in 2013, with 17 new permit applications received in 2014. The number of barrels injected in Sumner County increased from 9,763,265 in 2010 to 10,722,360 in 2013. 

Saturday, the afternoon of the quake, Mary Fallin, governor of Oklahoma, declared several dozen disposal wells closed within 500 miles of the epicenter, but that doesn't mean Kansas petroleum lobbyists, politicians and industry wonks will change their positions. Large numbers of Kansans blame Oklahoma for this, but this calamity like the industry running loose in collusion with many state lawmakers, considers state borders a nuisance.

The industry can and do haul by tankers the fracking fluids to be disposed and can cross state borders with little if any notice of the governments.

We'll see if Gov. Brownback and the Kansas authorities will do anything of substance or wait till after the holiday.

I'll finish with posting this from the on-going protests just north of us a few hundred miles. Happening the same day as the quake it connects us, whether we like it or not.

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