Joe Wertz

Reporter

Joe Wertz is multi-platform reporter for StateImpact Oklahoma. He has previously served as Managing Editor of Urban Tulsa Weekly, as the Arts & Entertainment Editor at Oklahoma Gazette and worked as a Staff Writer for The Oklahoman. Joe was a weekly correspondent for KGOU from 2007-2010. He grew up in Bartlesville, Okla., lives in Oklahoma City, and studied journalism at the University of Central Oklahoma.

  • Email: stateimpact@kgou.org
  • Twitter: @joewertz

Study: ‘Reawakened’ Oklahoma Faults Could Produce Larger Earthquakes

Click here to read a .pdf of the study, "Earthquake hypocenters and focal mechanisms in central Oklahoma reveal a complex system of reactivated subsurface strike-slip faulting."

Geophysical Research Letters

Click here to read a .pdf of the study, "Earthquake hypocenters and focal mechanisms in central Oklahoma reveal a complex system of reactivated subsurface strike-slip faulting."

The faults responsible for thousands of earthquakes in Oklahoma are capable of producing larger earthquakes, according to a new study.

These “reactivated” faults were formed roughly 300 million years ago and are well known for creating underground structures that “trap” oil and natural gas, the U.S. Geological Survey wrote in a statement about the new research.

A primary reason for reactivation is the northeast or northwest orientation of the faults relative to the east to west direction of regional tectonic stress in earth’s upper crust, which increases the probability of a future, larger earthquake.

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Lawton Turns to Weather Manipulation to Aid Drought-Stricken City Water Supplies

A Lockheed WC-130B used by U.S. government researchers Stormfury, a cloud seeding research project focused on reducing the strength of hurricanes.

NOAA

A Lockheed WC-130B used by U.S. government researchers Stormfury, a cloud seeding research project focused on reducing the strength of hurricanes.

Five years of drought has strangled lakes and reservoirs in southwestern Oklahoma.

The city of Lawton is considering extraordinary means to help fill water supplies. City leaders hope a man with an airplane can manipulate the weather and bring more rain.

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Oklahoma House Unanimously Approves Bill Reducing Wind Industry Subsidies

The Oklahoma House of Representatives on Monday voted 89-0 to approve proposed legislation that would significantly reduce the amount of tax incentives paid to the wind industry.

House Bill 1554 was authored by Rep. Earl Sears, R-Bartlesville, who has pledged to curtail tax credits and incentives whose cost has ballooned along with Oklahoma’s booming wind industry.

From the Associated Press:

Sears said the bill in its current form would reduce by about 70 percent the amount of tax credits wind producers receive, although he acknowledged discussions with the industry are ongoing on the final amount. The credits are paid based on the amount of electricity produced by the facilities.

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Why State and Federal Agencies Record Different Oklahoma Earthquake Numbers

seismograph

matthileo / Flickr

Earthquake magnitude estimations often vary wildly between the Oklahoma Geological Survey and the U.S. Geological Survey.

The OGS usually reports smaller earthquakes than its federal counterpart. Since 2010, the OGS reported smaller numbers than the USGS “more than half of the time for earthquakes of magnitude 3.8 and higher,” the Tulsa World’s Ziva Branstetter and Curtis Killman report.

Here’s why:

There are two basic ways to calculate earthquake magnitude. The local magnitude, also known as the Richter scale, is accurate for smaller quakes, while moment magnitude is generally used for larger quakes but is more difficult to compute, according to the USGS.

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“Growing Wind Industry in Oklahoma Needs Greater Transparency, Community Involvement, Panel Says”

A panel discussion at the University of Tulsa’s College of Law urged “greater transparency, collaboration and community involvement if the state is to realize its potential as one of the nation’s biggest wind producers,” Paul Monies reports.


As wind farm development has moved from the rural, western part of the state to areas closer to population centers, concerns are arising over siting, noise and the effects on views for neighboring landowners. That’s tended to divide people into pro-wind and anti-wind camps, said Jason Aamodt, assistant dean of online legal education at TU’s law school. “We need to move beyond the rhetoric to real decision-making,” Aamodt said. “It gets into sustainable development, with the triple bottom line of economic development, environmental conservation and social development.”

Read more at: newsok.com

House Committee Advances Bill Placing Location Restrictions on New Wind Farms

Tammy and Rick Huffstutlar have spoken out against wind farm development near their home in Calument, Okla.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Tammy and Rick Huffstutlar have spoken out against wind farm development near their home in Calument, Okla.

A bill adding new regulations and oversight of Oklahoma’s booming wind industry passed a House committee on Tuesday.

House Bill 1549, one of several bills filed in the 2015 Legislature that target the wind industry, places limits on where companies can build new wind farms. The proposed measure would prevent new wind farms from being built near schools, hospitals or airports.

The bill was written by Rep. Earl Sears, R-Bartlesville. He says landowners and the wind industry were consulted when crafting the legislation. Continue Reading

“Analysts Fear A Prolonged Drop In Oil Will Hurt Oklahoma’s Banks”

Story from NPR about worries that energy industry banks in Oklahoma and other states aren’t prepared for prolonged low oil prices.


“The severity of the drop in prices reminds me of the ’80s, but the situation is completely different,” Agee says. Banks have evolved since then, too. Dan Ellinor, chief operating officer of the Bank of Oklahoma, says regulations are stricter and lending practices are tighter. He says energy companies do hold about 20 percent of the money his bank has out on loan. This is a high percentage, and those companies are losing money fast, but Ellinor says he’s not fretting, yet.

Read more at: www.npr.org

“Oklahoma Insurers Receive Earthquake Coverage Education”

More than 2,500 insurance professionals in Oklahoma have completed a one-hour class on earthquake coverage, The Oklahoman’s Adam Wilmoth reports.


As the state’s ongoing earthquake swarm continues, insurance agents throughout the state are receiving training about earthquake insurance. More than 2,500 Oklahoma insurance professionals have completed a one-hour continuing education course on earthquake coverage, Insurance Commissioner John Doak said Friday.

Read more at: newsok.com

The Science of Oil and Gas-Related Earthquakes is ‘Ready for Application,’ USGS Says

"Coping with earthquakes induced by fluid injection," was published Feb. 20, 2014 in the journal Science.

"Coping with earthquakes induced by fluid injection," was published Feb. 20, 2014 in the journal Science.

A new peer-reviewed paper published in the journal Science urges greater partnership between industry, government agencies and researchers in responding to the consequences of earthquakes triggered by oil and gas activity.

The paper, authored by the U.S. Geological Survey and other federal scientists, as well as state seismologists, including the Oklahoma Geological Survey’s Austin Holland, also endorsed more transparency:

For purposes of transparency and avoiding public distrust, it is important to put the results of these seismic network operations into the public domain in near real time. Even if a network is owned and operated by industry, regulators must ensure that seismic data are not withheld from the public.

and more public involvement: Continue Reading

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