Hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as “fracking," is a highly-debated topic as far as its impact on the Earth and its people. Some claim that the high-pressure drilling process for extracting gas and oil is safe and effective, while others believe it is causing earthquakes and groundwater contamination.
Everyone seems to have some sort of study or report to back up what they think about fracking, whether it be pro or con. In matters such as these, the final say-so should come from the findings of unbiased, trained scientists and be based on well-researched data.
One titan of the oil industry, however, has allegedly tried to have a team of scientists fired for even researching the subject.
Oil tycoon Harold Hamm reportedly wrote an e-mail to the University of Oklahoma calling for the termination of a group of scientists at the school who were investigating whether fracking is related to earthquakes.
The topic is particularly important to Oklahoma, a state that has seen a frightening increase in earthquakes in recent history. Before 2009, the state had experienced an average of 1.6 earthquakes of a 3.0 magnitude per year. In 2014, Oklahoma suffered a staggering 585 earthquakes of the same magnitude.
Larry Grillot, the dean of the university’s Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy, told press: “Mr. Hamm is very upset at some of the earthquake reporting to the point that he would like to see select OGS (Oklahoma Geological Survey) staff dismissed."
Hamm is also accused of trying to plan a meeting with Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin in an attempt to get the OGS team moved off the UOO campus. The billionaire has refuted all these accusations, but the circumstantial evidence is working against him. After all, Grillot has nothing to gain from making false accusations against a powerful figure such as Hamm, who is also a high-dollar donor to the school.
If the accusations are true, that means Hamm is obviously afraid of what the scientists might uncover. And that isn’t exactly a glowing endorsement for the opinion that fracking is safe.