Something is shaking central Kansas, and no, it’s not just elated Chiefs fans. We checked.
A magnitude 4.6 earthquake centered in South Hutchinson rattled the Reno County on Jan. 19.
That should shock most Kansans, but it’s becoming more commonplace especially in that region of the state.
Kansans know what to do about floods, high winds, thunderstorms and tornadoes, but earthquakes are something we have only recently had to get educated on.
Since 2016, Reno County has experienced 126 earthquakes of a magnitude 2.0 or greater, Kansas Geological Survey records show. In all, 49 of those, or almost 40 percent, occurred in 2019. Yikes.
The Hutchinson News’ John Green reported in late January officials say they haven’t reached any conclusions to pinpoint what caused what’s now referred to as the “Hutchinson cluster” other than they continue to believe the quakes are man-made and likely caused by regional underground wastewater disposal.
Underground wastewater disposal is a byproduct of the production of oil and gas.
Green reported that scientists believe the Reno County quakes — and the more than 13,000 others that have occurred in south-central Kansas over the past five years — aren’t naturally occurring but are instead “induced” by the injection of large amounts of briny wastewater from oil and gas production that’s pumped underground to dispose of it.
Two groups, one appointed by Gov. Laura Kelly in August and the other recently formed by the Kansas Corporation Commission, are looking into the quakes and what is causing them.
To this, we say it’s about time and please take this inquiry seriously. Your findings will have a great impact on the lives of many Kansans. Don’t shirk this responsibility.
Is putting a stop to drilling for oil and gas the only way to stop the shaking? Is there a compromise that can be made? We leave that to you to determine.
Nevertheless, investigate this matter with scrupulosity. Leave no rock unturned. Pun intended because it might have a clue to offer.
Look at the data, find out as much as you can and look for a solution. But please don’t forget the human aspect of this. Don’t forget the people in central Kansas who are concerned about their homes, businesses, safety and need answers.
Ask them questions, listen to them, determine what their needs are and how the state can help. They have questions. Hear them out and answer them to the best of your ability.