A pile of coal sits along the railroad tracks just east of Red Oak, Okla.
Oklahoma has been battling the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over new environmental regulations since Gov. Mary Fallin came into office in 2010, and Attorney General Scott Pruitt is vowing to fight the latest proposed rule that would cut carbon emissions by 30 percent nationally.
But a new study from Strategic and International Studies and the Rhodium Group shows the state might be shooting itself in the foot by fighting what could end up being an economic boom.
The study took into account the economic costs imposed by the regulation and concluded that it would raise electricity rates by up to 10 percent in some parts of the country and eventually freeze coal production. But even taking those costs into account, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas together would experience an annual net economic benefit of up to about $16 billion, according to the study.
“The irony is that some of the states that have been the loudest in opposing E.P.A. climate regulations have the most to gain in terms of actual economic interest,” said Trevor Houser, an analyst at the Rhodium Group and a co-author of the study.
Bob Hamilton, director of the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve near Pawhuska, Okla.
Oklahoma is moving up the national ranks in wind-generated electricity. But as wind farms expand into northeastern Oklahoma, developers are facing a team of unlikely allies: oil interests and environmentalists.
Wind farm developers encounter opposition wherever projects are planned, but the debate in Oklahoma is perhaps most magnified in Osage County, where there’s a confluence of money, government and prairie politics.
Over the past week, Oklahoma has secured more than $37 million in federal funding for dam improvements across the state and for water system repairs in communities with aging pipes and treatment plants.
First, on July 18, the federal governmentannounced a national dam assessment and repair program made possible by an “almost 21 fold” increase in funding for watershed rehabilitation under the 2014 Farm Bill. $26.4 million will go to Oklahoma.
Federal and state officials gathered Friday at one such structure, a dam on Perry Lake, to announce $262 million in funding under the 2014 Farm Bill to rehabilitate or assess the condition of hundreds of dams across the nation, including $26.4 million for Oklahoma projects. The idea is to make sure these dams, many built more than a half-century ago, are safe and in good condition for the future.
The recent wet weather has been more than welcome by residents of drought-parched southwest Oklahoma, but it hasn’t yet been enough to reverse the depletion of municipal water supplies.
Now the Oklahoma Water Resources Board is stepping in to help communities there to keep from running out of water. From The Associated Press:
The studies will focus on how water conservation, marginal quality water supplies and public water supply system regionalization might address the needs of basins on a local level and serve as examples for water users statewide.
The studies are part of the state’s ongoing water conservation initiative.
About 72 percent want the Oklahoma Corporation Commission to be the regulator; 68 percent support rules for maintenance to prevent accidents; 63 percent support local governments having more input on wind projects in their areas. The poll was commissioned by the Oklahoma Property Rights Association, which has opposed wind-energy projects.
Results from the latest SoonerPoll indicate that likely Oklahoma voters, who in other polling typically oppose more regulation, believe there is not enough regulation of wind energy development or oversight of wind tax subsidies in the state.
Mitchell Logan supervises a pump station near Macomb, the 100-mile Atoka Pipeline's last stop on its way to the OKC metro.
Oklahoma City has been pumping water out of southeast Oklahoma through the Atoka pipeline for 50 years. But in the future, the aging pipeline won’t be able to carry enough water to meet the growing needs of Oklahoma City, let alone the rest of central Oklahoma. The plan is build another pipeline right next to the existing one.
Seventeen central Oklahoma communities formed a partnership with Oklahoma City to build the new 100-mile pipeline to get the water, but that water coalition has crumbled.
In the wake of deadly derailments, fiery explosions and dangerous spills, the federal government in May ordered railroads to share with state authorities more information about some crude oil shipments.
But as The Oklahoman’sPaul Monies reports, the agency might reverse course and release reports the Federal Railroad Administration says don’t “contain security-sensitive information”: Continue Reading →
A waterfall at Disney State Park on Grand Lake in northeast Oklahoma.
Four state parks in northeastern Oklahoma could be sold off, leased out or closed due to state budget cuts and low park revenue.
Oklahoma Department of Tourism and Recreation hasn’t made a final decision on three of the parks, but is considering selling or leasing Disney/Little Blue Area at Grand Lake, Snowdale Area at Grand Lake and Spring River Canoe Trails.
But the agency on July 8 decided to terminate the state’s lease at Walnut Creek, which is owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, KJRH reports.
Selling or leasing the parks are just two of the options they are considering.
Blair said department leaders are exploring all possibilities.
On Tuesday, the tourism and recreation department said it would terminate its lease at Walnut Creek State Park in Osage County, thereby closing the park at the end of summer.
Stillwater resident Jonathan Pollnow and Oklahoma City resident Bob Waldrop want voters to reject Senate Bill 1456, signed into law in April by Gov. Mary Fallin. The law allows regulated electric utilities to set up a new customer class with higher base rates for users of rooftop solar panels and small wind turbines. If Pollnow and Waldrop can gather at least 51,739 signatures of registered voters, State Question 772 will appear on the November ballot. Backers of a referendum petition must get at least 5 percent of the total number of votes for governor in the last election cycle.
The federal government has ordered railroads to share more information about some crude oil shipments with state authorities, but Oklahoma officials won’t share that information with regular citizens, The Oklahoman‘s Paul Monies reports:
After an inquiry about the Bakken rail shipment reports, the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality said the commission entered into confidentiality agreements with railroads under guidance from the federal Department of Transportation. Continue Reading →
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