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State Rep: Earthquakes, not budget, most important state issue

The 5.1 magnitude earthquake that shook Oklahoma Saturday came as Rep. Richard Morrissette prepares for a public forum on earthquakes.

Related: Strong aftershocks felt Sunday after 5.1 quake, more expected

"Every hour of everyday they're talking about it," Rep. Morrissette said of his constituents.

Morrissette, D-Oklahoma City, wanted to give residents another chance to hear from the experts on the topic. He's hosting the public forum on February 23, at UCO. Among the guests who will speak is activist Erin Brockovich.

"This is absolutely the issue of the moment. I know the budget, every body's swirling around it, but when our homes, business and our lives maybe at stake here, I think that probably takes precedence," he said.

Contrast Morrissette's viewpoint to Gov. Mary Fallin's response when FOX 25 asked why she didn't bring up earthquakes in Oklahoma's State of the State Address.

"I didn't put earthquakes in there because I wanted the budget and our challenges as a state and how we're going to overcome this to be our biggest topic of discussion," she said but added "I also felt like earthquakes were so important that I had a stand-alone press event the week before my State of the State because it is an issue that concern families, with their homes, their largest investment, for the most part."

In that press conference Gov. Fallin announced $1.4 million from the state's emergency funds would be allocated to the Corporation Commission. The agency regulates energy activity. The money is supposed to go to hiring geologists, improving computer systems and better monitoring injection wells.

Morrissette doesn't think the state is or will be doing enough, at least so far.

"I don't believe anything's going to happen [this session]. This is an election year and many of the politicians owe their political lifeblood to those political contributions that come from the industry," he said.

The industry he referred to is oil and natural gas. Energy activity, namely wastewater injection, has been scientifically linked to earthquakes. Most of Oklahoma's have been deemed manmade.

Saturday's earthquake was the third largest ever recorded in Oklahoma. It only falls behind the record 5.6 magnitude earthquake in Prague in 2011 and a 5.5 magnitude recorded in Yukon in 1952.

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