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City Officials Reconsider Drilling Ordinances as Anti-Frack Ban Legislation Moves Forward

Stillwater resident Tammy Mix stands in front of an oil and gas well behind her house.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Stillwater resident Tammy Mix stands in front of an oil and gas well behind her house.

The Oklahoma House and Senate have advanced legislation to prevent cities, towns and counties from banning fracking and other oil and gas activities.

At least one of the bills will likely end up on the governor’s desk, but even in its unsigned, non-finalized form, the legislation is affecting local regulation.

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The Murrah Bombing’s Role In Oklahoma City’s Downtown Renaissance

Bill Mihas, owner of Coney Island in downtown Oklahoma since the late 1970s.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Bill Mihas, owner of Coney Island in downtown Oklahoma since the late 1970s.

It’s been nearly 20 years since a bomb destroyed the Murrah building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people and injuring hundreds more. As Oklahoma City prepares to look back on the bombing, one thing is clear — downtown OKC is a far different, and much better place than it was in April 1995. And it’s hard to deny the role the bombing played in the area’s resurgence.

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In Southwest Oklahoma, a Farmer Harvests the Wind and Watches the State Capitol

Bob Kerr on his ranch near Carnegie, Okla., which is flanked by turbines from the Blue Canyon Wind Farm.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Bob Kerr on his ranch near Carnegie, Okla., which is flanked by turbines from the Blue Canyon Wind Farm.

Lawmakers have filed several measures targeting Oklahoma’s wind industry during the 2015 legislative session. The bills most likely to end up on the governor’s desk add regulation — like preventing new wind farms from being built near hospitals, schools and airports — and reduce wind energy tax credits.

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Oklahoma Running Out of Room for Oil as U.S. Hoards Crude in Cushing Hub

A tanker truck pulling into a terminal at the oil hub in Cushing, Okla.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

A tanker truck pulling into a terminal at the oil hub in Cushing, Okla.

A booming U.S. oil industry has led to near-record amounts of oil production, which has helped drive down oil prices. The energy industry has responded by storing crude instead of selling it at discount rates. That has created a unique situation in Oklahoma, where a major oil storage hub is on track to fill up — completely.

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Local Officials Raise New Questions as Anti-Frack Ban Legislation Makes Progress

Volunteers watching the polls in November 2014 in Denton, Texas, before voters approved a citywide ban on hydraulic fracturing.

Photomancer / Flickr

Volunteers watching the polls in November 2014 in Denton, Texas, before voters approved a citywide ban on hydraulic fracturing.

As legislation written to prevent counties and municipalities from banning hydraulic fracturing and other oil and gas activities advances through the Oklahoma House and Senate, some city leaders and their advocates say the measures go too far and could have unintended consequences.

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Why Oklahoma’s Newest Lake Might be Built by Fort Smith, Arkansas

Fort Smith Public Utilities Director Steve Parke.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Fort Smith Public Utilities Director Steve Parke.

In Oklahoma, the natural beauty of Lee Creek — one of the state’s scenic rivers — is protected by state law. In Arkansas, Lee Creek is an important water source for fast-growing Fort Smith. Now, Fort Smith has a plan to turn Lee Creek into Oklahoma’s next lake, and reignite a dispute that was settled more than 20 years ago.

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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 Right-to-Farm Legislation About More Than Agricultural Practices

Attendees listen as former Missouri state senator Wes Shoemeyer speaks against Amendment 1 at the Missouri’s Food for America sign-making event at Café Berlin Friday, June 27, 2014 in Columbia, Missouri.

KOMUnews / flickr

Attendees listen as former Missouri state senator Wes Shoemeyer speaks against Amendment 1 at the Missouri’s Food for America sign-making event at Café Berlin Friday, June 27, 2014 in Columbia, Missouri.

Oklahoma voters have at least a year before seeing ads for and against state questions on the ballot in November 2016. But you might want to get used to hearing this phrase now: right-to-farm.

It’s a divisive national issue that’s made its way to the Sooner State, one that puts agriculture at odds with environmentalists and animal rights advocates.

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2015 Water Legislation Divides Oklahoma Politicians by Geography, Not Party

State Senator Eddie Fields' bill would create water planning districts that mirror the OWRB's membership districts.

State of Oklahoma

State Senator Eddie Fields' bill would create water planning districts that mirror the OWRB's membership districts.

After 5 years of drought, Oklahoma’s dwindling water resources have the attention of state lawmakers. There are competing bills to study moving water from southeast Oklahoma to the Altus area, and to encourage self-sufficient, regionally based plans to meet future water needs.

Balancing the interests of Oklahomans who have plenty of water with those who desperately need it is a political fight, but not between Republicans and Democrats.

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Wind Power ‘Superhighway’ Could Help Transform Panhandle Into U.S. Energy Hub

A wind farm under construction near Balko, Okla.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

A wind turbine under assembly near Balko in Oklahoma's Panhandle. When completed, the turbine will be part of D.E. Shaw Renewable Investments' 300-megawatt Balko Wind Project.

The wind energy boom has largely evaded Oklahoma’s Panhandle, but new turbine projects and a proposal for a $2 billion transmission line could transform the prairie into a national wind energy hub.

But the projects are being planned amid uncertainty at the state Capitol, where tax credits for the wind industry are in the crosshairs.

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