Crowd Rallies for Clean Water as Norman Committee Considers New Drilling Rules

Demonstrators outside the Norman City Hall before a city council committee met to discuss changes to oil and gas drilling rules.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Demonstrators outside the Norman City Hall before a city council committee met to discuss changes to oil and gas drilling rules.

About 60 demonstrators gathered in front of the Norman City Hall Wednesday evening before the city council’s oversight committee met to discuss changes to the Norman’s oil and gas drilling regulations.

The Central Oklahoma Clean Water Coalition hosted the rally. Organizer Casey Holcomb says the current ordinances were written before fracking became so widespread. Continue Reading

Oklahoma City Residents Question Lake Hefner Drilling Plan at Contentious Public Meeting

A rowdy crowd of concerned residents shouted at city officials and questioned representatives of an oil company at a Thursday night meeting about a proposal to drill near Lake Hefner in Oklahoma City. Continue Reading

StateImpact’s Biggest Stories of 2014 and a Preview of Reporting for the Coming Year

Brothers and business partners Fred and Wayne Schmedt stand in their family's wheat field near Altus in southwest Oklahoma.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Brothers and business partners Fred and Wayne Schmedt stand in their family's wheat field near Altus in southwest Oklahoma.

StateImpact racked up thousands of miles traveling across the state this year, filing more than 40 full-length radio features and hundreds of web posts on how government energy, environmental and economic policy affects ordinary Oklahomans. And many of those stories involve issues that are ongoing.

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Feds Fund Study of Future Water Options for Drought-Stricken Region of Oklahoma

After four years of drought, municipal water storage in in Altus-Lugert lake has dropped to about 10 percent.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

After four years of drought, municipal water storage in in Altus-Lugert lake has dropped to about 10 percent.

The drought in portions of southwestern Oklahoma has been raging for four years now, making the idea of water supplies running dry over the next few years a real possibility. Careful infrastructure planning and a commitment to conservation will clearly be necessary if hotter, drier climate forecasts hold true. Continue Reading

“Donations from Devon PACs, Executives Fill GOP Campaign Coffers”

“Devon Energy’s political action committee and executive chairman have poured nearly $1 million since 2006 into the campaign funds of GOP candidates for state offices and party committees supporting them,” the Tulsa World reports.


Among the top individual recipients during that time is Attorney General Scott Pruitt, whose campaign received the maximum $5,000 contribution from Devon Energy’s PAC this year, even though Pruitt was re-elected months later with no opponent. The contribution came in April, about two weeks after Pruitt wrote a letter to the EPA protesting the agency’s plans to study fracking. Connections between Pruitt and Devon Energy Corp., a $32 billion energy company based in Oklahoma City, were the focus of national attention following a recent New York Times investigation.

Read more at: www.tulsaworld.com

As Beef Industry Deals With Drought, Researchers Eye Less-Thirsty Cattle

Oklahoma Cows

Soonerpa / Flickr

The ongoing drought in Oklahoma affects everyone in the country. Well, everyone who likes to eat beef, that is. Beef and veal prices will have risen by about 11.5 percent in 2014, and, as Reuters reports, “will increase significantly again in 2015″ because of drought in the Southern Plains.

Drought dries up ponds and has forced ranchers to reduce the size of their herds since the current drought began four years ago. But as The Oklahoman‘s Silas Allen reports, researchers from Oklahoma State University are using a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to study how to make herds more resilient for future droughts: Continue Reading

Lawmaker to Propose Legislation Changing Tax Incentives for New Wind Farms

The 147-megawatt Weatherford Wind Energy Center.

Travel Aficionado / Flickr

The 147-megawatt Weatherford Wind Energy Center.

Oklahoma Representative Earl Sears, is planning to file legislation modifying tax credits and incentives used by wind energy developers.

The legislation by Sears, R-Bartlesville, would only affect new wind projects and would target three tax credits used by the wind industry: Zero Emission Energy Generation, the five-year ad valorem exemption for manufacturers and other firms, and investment tax credits, eCapitol’s Shawn Ashley reports:

“In my opinion,” said Sears, R-Bartlesville, “those tax credits are very lucrative and must be reviewed on behalf of the taxpayers.”

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Mapped: Oklahoma’s Dams and the Potential Hazards They Pose

Explore Oklahoma’s dams with StateImpact’s interactive map detailing their age, type, owner, hazard classification and reported failures.


Oklahoma has the fifth-largest dam inventory in the United States. Ownership of the 4,700 dams is largely split between government agencies and private entities, including individual owners and other organizations like homeowner’s associations.
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Risk Associated With Dam Failures Grows in Oklahoma, But Safety Funding Lags

Families and a fisherman along the spillway beneath Broken Bow Dam in southeastern Oklahoma.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Families and a fisherman along the spillway beneath Broken Bow Dam in southeastern Oklahoma.

Oklahoma has nearly 5,000 dams, more than most other states. When they were built, they were classified based on the risk their failure would pose to people and property.

But for many dams, it’s been decades since that risk was evaluated, and the potential hazard has changed because Oklahoma has changed. There are houses, roads and people where there weren’t before.

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