Oklahoma

Economy, Energy, Natural Resources: Policy to People

Logan Layden

Logan Layden is a native of McAlester, Oklahoma. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2009 and spent three years as a state capitol reporter and local host of All Things Considered for NPR member station KGOU in Norman.

  • Email: loganlayden@ou.edu

Drought-Stricken Oklahoma Communities Dealing With Prospect of Dead Lakes

Will Archer, manager of the Mountain Park Master Conservancy District, at the Tom Steed Reservoir dam.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Will Archer, manager of the Mountain Park Master Conservancy District, at the Tom Steed Reservoir dam.

Most of western Oklahoma is in its fifth year of drought with still no end in sight, despite a wetter-than-normal-end to 2014.  And many of the lakes communities rely on for drinking water are now on the verge of being too low to use. The situation is most dire in Altus, Duncan and Canton.

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Duncan Bans All Outdoor Watering as Waurika Lake Levels Continue to Fall

The December 30, 2014 update of the U.S. Drought Monitor for Oklahoma.

U.S. Drought Monitor

The December 30, 2014 update of the U.S. Drought Monitor for Oklahoma.

The drought in southwest Oklahoma has lingered for more than four years now, and it will take more than a wet end to 2014 to stop it — a lot more.

Despite receiving above average December precipitation, the City of Duncan will ban all outdoor watering beginning next week. That’s because water levels in Waurika Lake, Duncan’s only current drinking water source, continue to drop. Continue Reading

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

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

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

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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Environmentalists: Regional Haze Ruling in Texas Means Cleaner Air in Oklahoma

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

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

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

On Nov. 24, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced its determination that Texas’ plan to reduce haze-causing emissions from its coal-fired power plants wouldn’t do enough to clear the air at national parks and wildlife refuges, including the Wichita National Wildlife Refuge in southwest Oklahoma.

Instead, the EPA will set the standards, which will likely force some plants to switch to natural gas or install expensive air scrubbers. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality didn’t take the news well, saying the EPA’s requirements would cost electricity customers billions of dollars for “a negligible increase in visibility.” Continue Reading

EPA Rejects Texas’ Plan to Reduce Haze at Oklahoma Wildlife Refuge

Meers area resident Bill Cunningham looks for haze over the Wichita Mountains from the top of Mt. Scott.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Meers area resident Bill Cunningham looks for haze over the Wichita Mountains from the top of Mt. Scott.

Oklahoma’s largest utility companies will spend more than $1 billion to upgrade coal-fired power plants or retire them in favor of natural gas, all to comply with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Regional Haze Rule, which is meant to improve visibility at national parks and wildlife refuges.

But as StateImpact reported, the haze issues at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge near Lawton are being caused by power plants in Texas, not Oklahoma, and concerned residents in the area wanted to see plants in Texas held to the same standard as the ones here.

On Monday, they got their wish. Continue Reading

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