The following article is from EnergyWire and reporter Mike Soraghan, who has been following closely the earthquakes in Oklahoma.
University of Oklahoma officials were seeking a $25 million donation from billionaire oilman Harold Hamm last year, records show, at a time when scientists at the school were formulating the state’s position on oil drilling and earthquakes.
They came up with a position that squared with Hamm’s, saying most of the hundreds of earthquakes rattling the state are natural and not caused by the oil industry.
But they didn’t get the $25 million to build “The Continental Resources Center for Energy Research and Technology.”
And since then, the university’s Oklahoma Geological Survey #OGS# has reversed that position. It now says that most of the quakes are “very likely” triggered by oil and gas activities.
Hamm, the founder, chairman and CEO of Continental Resources Inc., said he never seriously considered the university’s request.
“We never talked about it,” he said in a brief interview in Washington, D.C., this month. Then, he chuckled, “Well, I think they may have talked about it.”
University spokeswoman Catherine Bishop confirmed there is no “active proposal” for a $25 million Continental building.
State Rep. Jason Murphey, a Republican who has criticized the university’s handling of earthquake research, said he was startled to learn that school officials had been seeking such a large donation from Hamm.
“There are all kinds of transparency and conflict-of-interest issues with that,” said Murphey, whose constituents in Guthrie have been regularly rattled by quakes.