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A 5.7 earthquake away from destruction 

A 5.7 earthquake away from destruction

I woke up recently to tragic news: A 5.7 magnitude earthquake in Italy triggered an avalanche, burying a resort hotel filled with vacationing families, causing loss of life and devastation across the region.

That same number — 5.7 magnitude on the Richter Scale — has been on my mind for weeks. Ever since I received a copy of a letter that describes what a 5.7 magnitude earthquake could do to Oklahoma's Cushing Oil Hub. It's not a pretty picture.

Arkansas's neighbor to the west has been experiencing massive earthquake swarms that are increasing in size and magnitude. Oklahoma's earthquakes are caused by wastewater injection wells used by the oil and gas industry. Despite agreement between the U.S. Geological Survey and the Oklahoma Geological Survey on the seismic consequences of injecting oil and gas wastewater deep underground, Oklahoma continues to allow thousands of these injection wells.

Cushing is known as "The Oil Pipeline Crossroads of the World" for good reason: With capacity for 80 million barrels of oil (and 42 gallons in each barrel), you do the math. The letter, sent by the EPA to Oklahoma's agency overseeing the oil and gas industry, is dated Nov. 22, 2016. It was written a month after Oklahoma's biggest earthquake: Pawnee's 5.8 quake in September 2016.

According to the EPA and Department of Homeland Security, and referenced by the U.S. Geological Survey and Oklahoma Geological Survey, an earthquake of 5.7 magnitude at the Cushing Oil Hub could destroy infrastructure and release untold amounts of crude oil into the environment.

Recently, Erin Brockovich, the respected environmentalist and subject of an award-winning film, traveled to Oklahoma to meet with families whose homes have been destroyed by nonstop earthquakes, now averaging up to three per day in Oklahoma.

Arkansas is the unhappy recipient of Oklahoma's seismic activity due to faultlines running east and west through the Ouachita Mountains and because of the Ozark Mountains' proximity to continuing tremors in Oklahoma. Now, an additional threat has emerged: Valero's Diamond Oil Pipeline. The Diamond Pipeline could be the final straw, adding 200,000 gallons of oil per day to this seismic area.

Originating at Oklahoma's Cushing Oil Hub, the Diamond Oil Pipeline is to be constructed through every watershed, river, farmland and forest between Fort Smith and Memphis. The Diamond Pipeline would terminate at Memphis's Valero Oil Terminal (after tunneling beneath the Mississippi River).

Recently, a group of fearless young people staged a sit-down strike at the Valero Oil Terminal. They studied the peaceful methods of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and knew they would be arrested. But they made their point: Memphis is at the heart of the New Madrid Fault zone, site of the most devastating earthquake in United States history. The Diamond Oil Pipeline connects what is currently the nation's most seismic region (Oklahoma) with the historically deadly New Madrid Fault zone, converging above the Memphis aquifer, upstream from the fertile Delta.

What could possibly go wrong with this scenario? We know what can go wrong, thanks to the EPA's warning to Oklahoma's oil and gas commissioners. The increasing seismicity of the Cushing Oil Hub constitutes a threat to national security, and building the Diamond Oil Pipeline compounds that threat.

Total destruction is only a 5.7 magnitude quake away — a magnitude that comes closer to reality with each passing day.

Denise Parkinson

Hot Springs National Park

The end

Democracy in our country is dead. It's not going to resurrect. It will decay quickly in the fetid cesspool we have so mindlessly built around us by our narcissistic fascination with exploitation and waste.

Our president for the past eight years tells us as he departs that "we will be fine." Only if by "fine" he is describing what we will be ground into under the heels of corporate plutocracy. The past week offered us serial insults in the way of so-called candidates to lead the highest executive offices of our government. Each one is a personal affront to every American citizen. As a group, they are suited only for the careers from which they were drawn. Those careers are designed solely to exploit the common good for the purpose of personal profit: the exact opposite of democratic government.

The Democratic Party representatives in the so-called "confirmation hearings" showed us they have become nothing more than another "pussy" to be grabbed, abused and tossed into the overflowing landfill of what we never have been able to accomplish. The already crippled and soon to be put out of its misery "news" media merely scrabbled for whatever crumbs were tossed their way when they could force a brief break from preening among themselves.

You want hope? It's not going to leap at you from whatever flickering screen has absorbed your few seconds of attention span. It's going to happen when that demagogue comes to crush you and you have the guts to kick its ass. That's going to take some preparation. The current trend line says you're not up to it.

David Steadman

Damascus

From the web

In response to last week's cover story, "Plant of the year," about medical marijuana:

The only dope I see in this is [marijuana policy expert Mark] Kleiman, talking about things he is not in touch with, and coming up with a term like stoned-hours. He has no idea what he is talking about, and the issue of the drug problem is that it will save lives, and help people (who really want to) quit using the opiates, that are killing them. Also, why isn't the state putting out a call for people with experience with this sort of thing? They are flying blind, and have absolutely no idea as to what they are doing, and need to be doing. That's a glaringly obvious fact that no one seems to think is worth mentioning.

Dale Worthington

In response to Autumn Tolbert's Jan. 19 column, "A heart in this house":

Autumn Tolbert, thank you. I met Rev. Barbour in Selma two years ago. A new moral leader for our country. Like my guide, my colleague and my friend the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. We have a democracy, a country and a world to save.

Strider Benston

The elections woke people up, a good thing, and that caused some people to feel insecure about their future, especially when you have a president-elect that can't convey his thoughts into a structured sentence with a beginning and end. He is just giving out information from the middle of a sentence. We aren't getting good information from him. His Cabinet and staff picks have been rather one-sided and some are scary people with extreme views. We will find out more information next week. I have been watching a lot of late-night talk show comedians and they provide some much needed laughter, so I don't take the shifting politics too seriously, which can ruin your whole day. There are a lot of political groups and PACS forming that are made up of good people that have felt the need to take some action that will produce and recruit strong candidates to run for offices that will be open in the 2018 election, such as [the ones held by] Governor Hutchinson, Treasurer Dennis Milligan, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and more. A good benefit that comes from marching Saturday is that you will meet some energetic people from a lot of different organizations. I think the march is important for my mental health.

ShineonLibby

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