“Questions Remain at Epicenter of Quake Trend”

NewsOK published an in-depth package on Oklahoma’s earthquake swarm, including the science and skepticism on possible links to oil and gas activity.


Oklahoma is a seismically active state crisscrossed with thousands of natural fault lines. But seismic activity has spiked over the past five years, leading scientists, regulators, oil and natural gas industry representatives and the general public to question what is different today — if anything — and what could be causing the rumblings. Some researchers have attributed the swarm to natural causes. Others have pointed largely to the oil and natural gas industry, specifically at its practice of disposing of produced water by pumping it deep below ground. Others say the unusual swarm likely is a combination of factors.

Read more at: newsok.com

State Agencies Concerned About Carrying Out EPA’s ‘Aggressive’ Air Pollution Plan

Power lines extend out from the Oklaunion coal-fired power plant near Vernon, Texas.

roy.luck / Flickr

Power lines extend out from the Oklaunion coal-fired power plant near Vernon, Texas.

State environmental and utility regulators on Thursday said it would be a struggle to accomplish carbon dioxide reduction goals outlined in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s “Clean Power Plan.”

The EPA’s proposal, first outlined in June, “would mean carbon dioxide reductions of more than 40 percent from Oklahoma power plants by 2030,” The Oklahoman‘s Paul Monies reports:

The Department of Environmental Quality already has 12 employees studying the proposed rules and how they might be implemented in the state, said Eddie Terrill, director of the air quality division. Continue Reading

Other States Have Outsized Influence in Oklahoma’s Scenic River Protection Policy

Bob Deitrick of Owasso stands along the banks of the Upper Illinois River at the Round Hollow public access point north of Tahlequah, Okla. The headwaters of this river are in Arkansas.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Bob Deitrick of Owasso stands along the banks of the Upper Illinois River at the Round Hollow public access point north of Tahlequah, Okla. The headwaters of this river are in Arkansas.

This is part two of StateImpact Oklahoma’s four-part series on the history of Oklahoma’s scenic rivers and the environmental threats they face. Part one is available here.

Bob Deitrick checks the snaps on his bright orange life vest, crouches and checks all the gear one last time. The Owasso father’s son and his two friends are behind him, impatiently paddling in circles.

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Injection Well Earthquakes Feel Weaker Than Natural Ones, New Study Suggests

While a growing chorus of scientific research has linked Oklahoma’s recent spike in earthquake activity to oil and gas industry disposal wells, a new study suggests such artificial earthquakes are less intense than naturally occurring temblors.

The peer-reviewed paper appears in the October 2014 edition of the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America and was authored by U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist Susan Hough, who found that people reported less shaking from earthquakes linked to fluid injection than naturally occurring earthquakes of similar magnitude. Continue Reading

Norman Residents Hear About Possibilities Of Banning Fracking At Public Forum

Terry Stowers waits to respond during an exchange with David Slottje at the fracking forum at Norman Public Library Aug. 11.

Joy Hampton / The Norman Transcript

Terry Stowers waits to respond during an exchange with David Slottje at the fracking forum at Norman Public Library Aug. 11.

The Lowry Room at the Norman Public Library filled to capacity Monday night, and a mass of people packed into the hallways to listen to a forum on hydraulic fracturing that included an OU scientist, assistant city attorney, and a lawyer from upstate New York who’s helped communities there ban fracking.

StateImpact’s Logan Layden moderated the event as each panelist made a presentation, and read questions from the audience.

Dr. Robert Puls was up first, and went over some of the basics of fracking. Puls is director of the Oklahoma Water Survey and an associate professor at OU’s College of Atmosphereic and Geographic Sciences. His presentation focuses on how the fracking process works. Continue Reading

Fracking Site Operator Faces Contempt Complaint After Acid Spill

Crews work to contain and clean up 20,000 gallons of hydrochloric acid that spilled near a hydraulic fracturing site near Hennessey, Okla.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Crews work to contain and clean up 20,000 gallons of hydrochloric acid that spilled near a hydraulic fracturing site near Hennessey, Okla.

Oklahoma’s oil and gas regulator filed a contempt complaint this week against the company overseeing a hydraulic fracturing operation in an oil field where 20,000 gallons of hydrochloric acid spilled.

The spill could be the state’s largest related to fracking, says Corporation Commission spokesman Matt Skinner.

Continue Reading

Flaming Waterways and Death Threats: The History of Oklahoma’s Scenic Rivers

A group of Tulsa bartenders prepare for a day on the Illinois River at Diamondhead Resort near Tahlequah, Okla.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

A group of Tulsa bartenders prepare for a day on the Illinois River at Diamondhead Resort near Tahlequah, Okla.

This is part one of StateImpact Oklahoma’s four-part series on the history of Oklahoma’s scenic rivers and the environmental threats they face. 

Even though it’s a Monday morning, rowdy Tulsans pile into a bus at Diamondhead Resort and rumble toward the nearest access point into the Illinois River.

“If you have a good group of people and enough alcohol you can make anything fun,” one floater tells StateImpact.

They head off to enjoy a booze-soaked afternoon on the water, oblivious to the decades of effort it took to keep this water clear and the river flowing.

Continue Reading

Oklahoma’s Largest Utility Prepares To Comply With EPA, Pass Costs to Customers

Oklahoma Gas & Electric's coal-fired Sooner Plant in Red Rock, Okla.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma Gas & Electric's coal-fired Sooner Plant in Red Rock, Okla.

Oklahoma Gas and Electric has put up staunch resistance to new federally mandated air pollution rules, joining Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt in taking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to court over the regional haze and mercury and air toxics rules.

OG&E was ultimately unsuccessful in those challenges, and now, the time to start complying with the regulations has come. And as the utility has been warning for years, complying with new EPA rules will mean higher electricity bills for customers.

As The Oklahoman’s Paul Monies reports, on August 6, Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. “filed an application to recover $1.1 billion from ratepayers to pay for environmental compliance and the replacement of its aging Mustang natural gas plant.” Continue Reading

“Continental Resources Builds Two Water Recycling Centers”

The facilities will be located in Garvin and Stephens counties to take water from the South Central Oklahoma Oil Province, or SCOOP. The company spent $25 million on the two centers and expects they will pay for themselves in three years, NewsOK reports.


“Ultimately, we’re running a business,” he said. “We wish we could be recycling in every area we get into. But the reality is that often it doesn’t make economic sense. It will seldom make any economic sense unless it is in an area where we are drilling multiple wells per section.” The new recycling facilities include storage tanks where residual oil is removed and a large, lined pit, where the water is further cleaned and processed over about seven days.

Read more at: newsok.com

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