Ex-Seismologist Of Oklahoma: I Was Coerced Into Altering Research

Credit: (https://earthquake.usgs.gov/ Public Domain)

Oklahoma's former head seismologist claims that he was coerced into altering research on the effects of fracking.

Austin Holland, Oklahoma's former head seismologist, claims that he was coerced into altering research that showed a demonstrable correlation between liquid fracking and earthquakes. Holland's academic paper also delivered policy actions meant to ensure better safety for industry and for Oklahomans.

In a deposition taken on Oct. 11, Austin Holland alleges he was reprimanded for publishing a peer-reviewed journal article connecting the two and was pressured to alter his findings by Larry Grillot, former dean of OU’s Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy, and Randy Keller, the former director of the Oklahoma Geological Survey. Holland said his decision to leave OU and the Oklahoma Geologic Survey in 2015 was a direct result of pressure from his employers.

Holland claims Oklahoma billionaire Harold Hamm met with him and made it known that any negative reporting on fracking would be bad for state business. Holland testified that he was intimidated by Hamm.

“Well, the president of the university expressed to me that I had complete academic freedom, but that as part of being an employee of the state survey, I also have a need to listen to the people within the oil and gas industry,” Holland said. “And so Harold Hamm expressed to me that I had to be careful of the way in which I say things, that hydraulic fracturing is critical to the state's economy in Oklahoma, and that me publicly stating that earthquakes can be caused by hydraulic fracturing was — could be misleading, and that he was nervous about the war on fossil fuels at the time.”

"Beginning in 2009, the frequency of earthquakes in the U.S. State of Oklahoma rapidly increased from an average of fewer than two 3.0+ magnitude earthquakes per year since 1978 to hundreds per year in 2014, 2015, and 2016."