Oklahoma Grapples With Earthquake Spike—And Evidence of Industry's Role

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Oklahoma Grapples With Earthquake Spike—And Evidence of Industry's Role

Spike in seismic activity is linked with oil and gas wastewater disposal.
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Thursday, July 31, 2014 - 2:30pm

Customers who stop by Mike Kahn’s insurance agency in Oklahoma City are increasingly looking to buy a policy that was unheard of a decade ago: earthquake insurance.

Kahn, who opened the Lynnae Insurance Group in 2002, said he sold earthquake coverage to two homeowners during the first decade he was in business. During the past six months, he sold more than 125 policies.

“We used to get to that part of the policy, and I'd tell customers, ‘You don’t need that. This is Oklahoma,’” Kahn said, referring to the days when earthquake coverage was an add-on to a homeowner policy. “We used to laugh about it.”

But much has changed in Oklahoma, which leads the continental United States in earthquakes so far this year. From 1978 to 2008, Oklahoma experienced an average of one earthquake a year of magnitude 3 and higher, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. As of last week, the state experienced 258 earthquakes in that range, almost twice as many as California.

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Keywords: Energy | Earthquake | Energy | Environment | National Geographic | Oklahoma | fracking | wastewater

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