Economy, Energy, Natural Resources: Policy to People
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.
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.
Terry Stowers waits to respond during an exchange with David Slottje at the fracking forum at Norman Public Library Aug. 11.
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 →
Oklahoma Gas & Electric's coal-fired Sooner Plant in Red Rock, Okla.
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 →
Shaun Pelkey and his daughter Ireland Pelkey enjoy the afternoon at one of Walnut Creek State Park's beaches on Keystone Lake.
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.
Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt prepares to greet Gov. Mary Fallin at the 2013 State of the State address at the state capitol.
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.
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.
A pile of coal sits along the railroad tracks just east of Red Oak, Okla.
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.
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.
Over the past week, Oklahoma has secured more than $37 million in federal funding for dam improvements across the state and for water system repairs in communities with aging pipes and treatment plants.
First, on July 18, the federal governmentannounced a national dam assessment and repair program made possible by an “almost 21 fold” increase in funding for watershed rehabilitation under the 2014 Farm Bill. $26.4 million will go to Oklahoma.
Federal and state officials gathered Friday at one such structure, a dam on Perry Lake, to announce $262 million in funding under the 2014 Farm Bill to rehabilitate or assess the condition of hundreds of dams across the nation, including $26.4 million for Oklahoma projects. The idea is to make sure these dams, many built more than a half-century ago, are safe and in good condition for the future.