Written by Erren Harter
Our friends who reside in the Flint Hills seem to have controversy concerning the environment on an ongoing basis.
Forty or more years ago there was a major discussion about preserving the Tallgrass Prairie with many people from outside coming to the Flint Hills to express their opinions.
More recently and ongoing is the debate about burning the tall grass in the Spring on a regular basis because the smoke from the massive fires cause pollution in far away places like Omaha and beyond.
Now the area is involved in the debate over the injection of salt water from oil wells back into the ground.
Evidence is present that blames the oil and gas industry for the increases in seismic activity in the area.
Amazingly there are an estimated 5,000 Class I saltwater injection wells in Kansas and another 16,600 Class II wells. Morris County and its' six surrounding counties have 121 of these wells.
Oil producers started putting the saltwater back in the ground years ago. It has to go somewhere. My dad was pioneer in using pressure in this process to change the formation underground to make oil pool up and be easier to find and pump. It was called "water flooding" back in the 60's.
Today this process of disposing of saltwater is given a lot of the blame for increases in earthquakes in Oklahoma and Kansas.
The current issue in the Flint Hills is concern over a proposed new injection well in Morris County about 15 miles from Strong City. The owner has filed for a permit to put more waste water than normal back into the ground and at a slightly higher pressure than any of the other wells in the area.
The Kansas Corporation Commission is holding a hearing and will decide how to handle the request. Local folks have organized and hired an attorney.
The Oil and Gas Association of Kansas is asking for common sense especially in light of evidence there are acceptable ways to control this process that are safe without completely denying the application.
KIOGA points out Oklahoma and Kansas officials have been proactive and have a good track record for regulating saltwater injections with positive results in reducing seismic activity.
Hopefully the demands for a complete denial of the application versus allowing it as requested can somehow be compromised.
Common sense has always been a strong trait in the Flint Hills.
This all makes me wonder how ranchers who desire to burn their grass despite existence of pollution feel about the injection process and its effect on the environment.
Guess life in the Flint Hills is not all that simple.
I'm Steve Sauder and I'm betting on a good outcome.