How much water is too much to withdraw from the Garber-Wellington Aquifer, which underlies central Oklahoma? That’s the question going forward, now that a study of the aquifer is finished. But one thing seems clear: the status quo is not sustainable.
J. Stephen Conn / Flickr
The water situation for the city of Duncan continues to deteriorate. Despite improving drought conditions in the area, portions of Stephens County — where Duncan is located — are still in the severe or exceptional drought categories.
So, at a meeting Tuesday, the Duncan City Council voted to move from the Stage 3 rationing the city has been under since March 2013 — which limits outdoor watering to the early morning hours twice a week — to Stage 4, but delayed implementation until October.
From The Duncan Banner‘s Steve Olafson:
The delay is designed to give residents plenty of time to get used to the idea of stricter water rationing when the city moves to the Stage 4 level of water conservation.
But the council voted to make Stage 4 rationing less harsh than it otherwise would be.
Under the city’s revamped conservation law, residents will be able to water lawns and do other outdoor chores such as wash cars or hose down driveways one day each week during Stage 4 rationing.
This is part three of StateImpact Oklahoma’s four-part series on the history of Oklahoma’s scenic rivers and the environmental threats they face. Part two is available here.
A narrow rock wall holds back all but a couple of tiny waterfalls that sneak through cracks and flow into Lee Creek. This natural dam is so unique a nearby town in northwest Arkansas was named for it.Continue Reading
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
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 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
State tourism officials are considering closing or transferring four more state parks. The agency, like many, has had its budget cut over the past four years, but the decision to defund state parks is about more than money.
When StateImpact reported on President Barack Obama’s proposal to cut carbon emissions 30 percent nationally by 2030, mainly through less reliance on coal-fired power plants, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s reaction made it clear a lawsuit was coming.
On Tuesday, it became official. Oklahoma joined West Virginia — which is leading the case — and 10 other states to sue the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
From The Oklahoman‘s Paul Monies:
The attorneys general —11 Republicans and one Democrat — contend the agency doesn’t have the legal authority to issue the proposed rules under Section 11(d) of the Clean Air Act. They said the proposed rules are in conflict with a 2011 settlement the EPA signed with some other states after a lawsuit brought by several environmental groups.
Pruitt said the 2011 settlement said the EPA would use another section of the Clean Air Act to regulate emissions from power plants and stationary sources.
Despite more than 80 percent of the state still being under some level of drought, recent wet weather and below average temperatures continue to reduce the severity and size of drought in Oklahoma.
As The Oklahoman‘s Graham Lee Brewer Reports, this week’s rainfall “bookended one of the wettest July’s on record for the state, with some areas receiving more than seven inches of rain.”
Including data reported just before 6 p.m. Wednesday, the statewide Oklahoma Mesonet rainfall average of rate past 30 days was 3.89 inches — 1.11 inches above normal.
That number equates to the 22nd-wettest such period dating to 1921, state climatologist Gary McManus said.
Oklahoma has been battling the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over new environmental regulations since Gov. Mary Fallin came into office in 2010, and Attorney General Scott Pruitt is vowing to fight the latest proposed rule that would cut carbon emissions by 30 percent nationally.
But a new study from Strategic and International Studies and the Rhodium Group shows the state might be shooting itself in the foot by fighting what could end up being an economic boom.
From The New York Times‘ Coral Davenport:
The study took into account the economic costs imposed by the regulation and concluded that it would raise electricity rates by up to 10 percent in some parts of the country and eventually freeze coal production. But even taking those costs into account, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas together would experience an annual net economic benefit of up to about $16 billion, according to the study.
“The irony is that some of the states that have been the loudest in opposing E.P.A. climate regulations have the most to gain in terms of actual economic interest,” said Trevor Houser, an analyst at the Rhodium Group and a co-author of the study.