Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma
Stella and Jack Howard (left and right) with their daughter, Dawnelaina (center), sit with the remains of their Moore home. The Howards built this house after their last one was destroyed by the May 3, 1999, twister.
Just a quick update: Logan Layden and I are safe and sound. We’ve been sidetracked a bit from our daily StateImpact duties to help local stations and NPR report and cover the aftermath of the Moore tornado. We’ve helped with live reporting, filed stories, and helped document the devastation with photos.
We’re working on some in-depth tornado-related journalism for the StateImpact banner, too, but we expect to return to our government policy beats in short order.
Robert Douglas Lawler, senior vice president of international and deepwater operations at Anadarko Petroleum, has been chosen to lead the Oklahoma City natural gas giant, which has been seeking a permanent replacement for co-founder Aubrey McClendon, who was forced out of the company on April 1.
Lawler starts on June 17. In choosing him, Chesapeake is getting “a relatively youthful but seasoned industry hand as it seeks to coax greater profits from its extensive oil-and-gas holdings,” the Wall Street Journal‘s Daniel Gilbert reports:
Mr. Lawler, who has spent 25 years at Anadarko and a predecessor company, also has experience directing operations in some of Chesapeake’s core areas, including shale-rock formations in Pennsylvania, Louisiana and Texas.
Tom Kloza with the Oil Price Information Service says there’s plenty of oil, but not enough refining in our part of the nation.
Phil Masturzo / Akron Beacon Journal/MCT/Landov
Roger Root stands next to an wastewater holding tank near an injection well on his Newton, Ohio farm. Ohio banned wastewater injection wells in risky areas after a series of earthquakes in 2010 and 2011.
The 5.7-magnitude earthquake that destroyed 14 homes and injured two Oklahomans in November 2011 was the nation’s largest quake linked to injecting wastewater from oil and gas production deep underground. But neither that quake near Prague, nor Oklahoma’s recent spike in seismic activity, has provoked lawmakers or regulators here to write rules to protect public safety.
The company filed a lawsuit in Atoka County and is seeking a restraining order agains Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance and 21 people involved in the protests, The Oklahoman reports.
The state-owned electric utility took “tentative” steps toward a $380 million plan that includes a new natural gas power plant and upgrades to two coal-fired plants.
The state House on Monday passed a bill extending a $2 million tax credit for converting cars and pickups to cleaner fuels, like hydrogen and compressed natural gas.
The measure was carried by Rep. Skye McNiel, R-Bristow, and now awaits Gov. Mary Fallin’s approval, the Associated Press reports:
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and other technologies have unlocked huge, previously inaccessible deposits of natural gas across the country, pushing national production up 20 percent and roughly doubling monthly exports since 2008, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Oklahoma has the nation’s 4th highest natural gas production, though production has tapered off since 2009.
“Extreme” and “exceptional” drought persists throughout much of the state, especially in southwestern Oklahoma. Low reservoir levels have forced city officials in Altus to issue emergency water restrictions, and Oklahomans throughout the region are worried about the future.
Associated Press reporter Sharon Cohen interviewed Kent Walker, a farmer and rancher who lives near Frederick. Last year, most of Walker’s cotton crop was destroyed. And he lost most of his cotton and wheat crop to drought in 2011, the news service reports:
Walker’s resilience echoes across the southwest corner of Oklahoma as fears of a third straight year of drought ripple through this vast prairie where the dry spell has left visible scars: Ponds that are nearly or totally empty. Dead cedar trees. Sprouting weeds, fewer cows, bald pastures that resemble dirt roads instead of lush, green fields.
The oil and gas industry and the 13 attorneys general also say the EPA’s methane emission numbers are inflated, The Oklahoman reports.
gmeador / flickr
The Tom Steed Reservoir, which supplies Altus in southwestern Oklahoma, dropped to 32 percent full on May 1.
Emergency conservation orders have been issued in Altus, a drought-ravaged city in southwestern Oklahoma.
While spring rains have improved statewide drought conditions, many parts of the state are still suffering, data from the U.S. Drought Monitor show.
To put the geographic disparity into perspective: Oklahoma City had more rain in April than Altus has received all year, The Oklahoman’s Adam Kemp reports:
Under Stage 3 regulations, customers are asked to restrict outside watering to one day a week between midnight and 5 a.m. for automatic or underground sprinkler systems, and from 8 p.m. to midnight for aboveground systems. There is also no filling of empty swimming pools, except after repairs, and car washing is limited to once a week.