“Oklahoma Judge Dismisses Earthquake Lawsuit”

Sandra Ladra in August filed the lawsuit against the operators of Lincoln County water disposal wells, claiming they caused the 5.6-magnitude earthquake that shook near Prague, Okla., in November 2011 “that caused rock from her fireplace to land in her lap and injure her knee,” The Oklahoman’s Adam Wilmoth reports.


Judge Cynthia Ferrell Ashwood said the district court does not have jurisdiction, and that the case should instead be handled by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission.“The court further finds that this court would be required to decide issues that are within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission,” Ashwood wrote. “As a result, this court finds that it does not have jurisdiction to hear this case.”

Read more at: newsok.com

Hearing on Disposal Well Rules Exposes Gaps in State’s Earthquake Response

Rep. Cory Williams, D-Stillwater, questions Secretary of Energy and Environment Michael Teague at an interim study and hearing about earthquakes and disposal well oversight held in October 2014.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Rep. Cory Williams, D-Stillwater, questions Secretary of Energy and Environment Michael Teague at an interim study and hearing about earthquakes and disposal well oversight held in October 2014.

Oklahoma’s earthquake surge is unrelenting. The shaking is rattling residents and cracking the foundations of homes.

The quakes have also strained state agencies, which are struggling to keep up with the ongoing swarm while simultaneously developing a longer-term plan to analyze and address factors that might be triggering the earthquakes.

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Oklahoma’s New Normal: Water Forum Centers On Drought Adaptation

Robert Moore, general manager of the Marshall County Water Corporation, addresses a panel on local planning for future droughts at the 35th annual Oklahoma Governor's Water Conference in Oklahoma City Oct. 22.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Robert Moore, general manager of the Marshall County Water Corporation, addresses a panel on local planning for future droughts at the 35th annual Oklahoma Governor's Water Conference in Oklahoma City Oct. 22.

Drought — and how to deal with it — was the central theme of the annual Oklahoma Governor’s Water Conference last week in Oklahoma City, where water experts and authorities discussed issues ranging from crop management to what Las Vegas can teach Oklahoma about water conservation.

Oklahoma Water Resources Board Executive Director J.D. Strong made the point again this year: The future looks like the past — hotter and drier — and no one should be surprised. Continue Reading

Eastern Oklahoma Coal Mining Comeback Stalls as Demand From China Falls

Steel Plant, Anshan, Liaoning, China, February 2009.

Sonya Song / Flickr

Steel Plant, Anshan, Liaoning, China, February 2009.

In May of last year, it looked like impoverished areas of eastern Oklahoma would be getting a lifeline. Coal mining, once a vital industry there, appeared to be headed for a comeback thanks to booming international demand.

Local residents were excited about the prospect of hundreds of new jobs when StateImpact first visited Heavener, but the mining project has stalled.

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Debate About Competition and Cost at Senate Panel on Wind Incentives

Frank Robson, a wind farm opponent and property developer from Claremore, Okla., at an Oct. 21 Senate hearing on tax incentives for the wind industry.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Frank Robson, a wind farm opponent and property developer from Claremore, Okla., at an Oct. 21 Senate hearing on tax incentives for the wind industry.

Members of the state Senate Finance Committee heard testimony on Tuesday from the wind industry and a representative of a group of property owners pushing for stricter regulation of wind farms.

The Senate study centered on the cost-benefit of tax credits and incentives used by the wind industry. Supporters said Oklahoma’s incentives attract projects that might otherwise be built in other states with similar wind potential, including sites in Kansas, Nebraska and Texas. Continue Reading

“Turbine Turmoil: Landowners Still Worried About Wind Farm Effects”

A second public hearing on what role the Corporation Commission should have in regulating the wind energy industry was held Oct. 15, and included discussions about “siting, landowner notification and decommissioning,” the Journal Record reports.


However, the meetings aren’t designed to create rules. The study sessions are intended to establish recommended guidelines for statutes should the Legislature give the OCC authority over wind farms. The agency has authority to establish decommission policies when wind farms are retired. Tonya Hinex-Ford, energy coordinator for the OCC Public Utilities Division, said that based on submitted comments, people disagree on whether the agency should have more or less power for turbine siting. In addition, many who spoke were concerned about how utility-scale wind farms would affect wildlife and potential health effects from noise. Some residents previously told the OCC about flickering shadows inside homes caused by turbines’ spinning blades.

Read more at: journalrecord.com

“Oklahoma Water Officials Try To Keep Conservation Active”

All the recent wet weather could lead some to think water conservation isn’t as necessary as it was at the peak of the drought, but state water experts are working make conservation a higher priority in the minds of Oklahomans. That includes encouraging water reuse and making conservation a year-round proposition.


Oklahoma’s water supply is more than adequate to meet the state’s immediate needs, Oklahoma Water Resources Board executive director J.D. Strong told lawmakers Tuesday. That abundance can make it difficult to convince some water users of the importance of conserving water to prepare for a drier future, he said.

Read more at: newsok.com

Rumbles of New Scrutiny as Quakes Continue to Surge in Oklahoma

Gov. Mary Fallin and Michael Teague, Secretary of Energy and Environment, talk to reporters at the Governor's Energy Conference in 2014.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Gov. Mary Fallin and Michael Teague, Secretary of Energy and Environment, talk to reporters at the Governor's Energy Conference in 2014.

Oklahoma’s earthquake surge and possible links to oil and gas activity have been studied in scientific papers, discussed at heated town-hall meetings and explored regulatory hearings.

The quakes are now triggering some rumblings at the state Capitol.

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Legislature Studies Red Cedar Threat and Creative Ways To Fight Its Spread

Homeowner Larry Huff holds a shard of Eastern Red Cedar, the handiwork of an Oklahoma County program that clears the flammable tree from private property.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Homeowner Larry Huff holds a shard of Eastern Red Cedar, the handiwork of an Oklahoma County program that clears the flammable tree from private property.

The eastern red cedar tree’s bad reputation for fueling wildfires, hogging water, and disrupting ecosystems in Oklahoma is drawing the attention of state lawmakers, but so are ways to put the tree to use, like to help fight cancer. Continue Reading

Three Reasons to Care That Oklahoma is No. 1 in Gypsum: Twinkies, Beer, Roads

Gypsum embedded in the landscape at Gloss Mountain State Park in Major County.

Chip Smith / Flickr

Gypsum embedded in the landscape at Gloss Mountain State Park in Major County.

Here’s what seems like a mundane factoid about the Sooner State: Oklahoma leads the nation in gypsum mining.

Mildly interesting, right? Actually, it’s fascinating, as The Oklahoman‘s Mike Coppock explains:

The next time you bite down on a Twinkie, know there is a good chance part of it was mined out of a mesa south of Little Sahara State Park.

The same goes for the beer you may order at Bricktown or the loaf of bread you buy at the grocery store.

Oklahoma not only leads the nation in gypsum mining, but gypsum in Oklahoma is so pure that it is used as a calcium additive for foods we take for granted and in common medications.

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