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As Authorities Use Permit Process to Scrutinize Wells in Earthquake Country, Oil Industry Remains Silent

Oil-field workers tend to American Energy-Woodford's Judge South well in November 2014 well shortly after the Oklahoma Corporation Commission ordered it temporarily shut-in.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oil-field workers in November 2014 tending to American Energy-Woodford's Judge South well near Perkins, Okla., shortly after the Oklahoma Corporation Commission ordered it temporarily shut-in.

As earthquakes continue to rattle Oklahoma and scientists study links to oil and gas production, many Oklahomans want to know what, if anything, is being done to address the shaking.

An investigation by StateImpact shows that while authorities are quietly scrutinizing wells in quake-prone parts of the state, most of the companies that operate the wells are staying silent.

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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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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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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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Scrutiny of Subsidies Could Test the Economics of Wind Energy in Oklahoma

A NextEra Renewable Energy Resources wind farm site near Elk City, Okla.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

A NextEra Renewable Energy Resources wind farm site near Elk City, Okla.

The 2015 session is still months away, but the newly elected Oklahoma Legislature has already started talking about how to divvy up roughly $7 billion in state appropriations.

Some prominent lawmakers are promising to re-examine tax credits and economic incentives worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Some of those incentives are used for wind energy, which the industry says are working.

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EPA In the Crosshairs as Oklahoma’s Inhofe Gains Sway Over Climate Policy

Oklahoma U.S. Senator James Inhofe at an impromptu news conference during climate talks in Copenhagen in 2009.

Andrew Revkin / Flickr

Oklahoma U.S. Senator James Inhofe at an impromptu news conference during climate talks in Copenhagen in 2009.

The Republican wave that put the party back in full control of Congress also put Oklahoma U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe back in charge of the Senate committee that oversees the country’s environmental policies.

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What Oklahoma Can Learn From a Municipal Ban on Fracking in Texas

A Frack Free Denton booth at the University of North Texas. On Nov. 4, voters approved a citywide ban on hydraulic fracturing.

Crystal J. Hollis / Flickr

A Frack Free Denton booth at the University of North Texas. On Nov. 4, voters approved a citywide ban on hydraulic fracturing.

Driven by water worries, safety questions and quality of life concerns, residents in Oklahoma and states other the country have pushed for citywide bans on hydraulic fracturing.

Many of those efforts have proved successful, but, in the end, fracking bans might be more about lawyers than voters.

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Hunters Hopeful Wetter Summer Means More Wildlife In Oklahoma’s Woods

Jack Barrett, owner of the BDC Gun Room in Shawnee, Okla., shows off a new shotgun model popular with hunters.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Jack Barrett, owner of the BDC Gun Room in Shawnee, Okla., shows off a new shotgun model popular with hunters.

Nearly a quarter of a million hunters are set to grab their guns and stalk through Oklahoma’s woods when deer gun season opens the week before Thanksgiving.

But years of drought have taken a toll on wildlife populations in Oklahoma, and the men and women who hunt and fish for them.

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Eastern Oklahoma Coal Mining Comeback Stalls as Demand From China Falls

Steel Plant, Anshan, Liaoning, China, February 2009.

Sonya Song / Flickr

Steel Plant, Anshan, Liaoning, China, February 2009.

In May of last year, it looked like impoverished areas of eastern Oklahoma would be getting a lifeline. Coal mining, once a vital industry there, appeared to be headed for a comeback thanks to booming international demand.

Local residents were excited about the prospect of hundreds of new jobs when StateImpact first visited Heavener, but the mining project has stalled.

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How a Wind Farm is Helping Save the Family Farm in Western Oklahoma

Monte Tucker, left, stands with his son and dad on the family's farm near Sweetwater, Okla.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Monte Tucker, left, stands with his son and dad on the family's farm near Sweetwater, Okla.

In the ongoing debate about Oklahoma’s wind industry and whether it needs stricter regulation, two types of property owners have been the most vocal: those who hate the idea of turbines next door, and those eager to lease land to a wind company.

But there’s a voice that’s been largely absent from the discussion so far: Landowners who have wind farms and like them.

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