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Study: Climate Change Challenges Oklahoma’s Temperature-Sensitive Economy

Oklahoma's average summer temperature range is expected to increase from 81.7-83.58°F to 87.0-93.51°F from 2020 to 2099, the report predicts.

Risky Business Project / Rhodium Group

Oklahoma's average summer temperature range is expected to increase from 81.7-83.58°F to 87.0-93.51°F from 2020 to 2099, the report predicts.

Future temperature changes pose serious risks to the climate-sensitive agricultural and energy industries in Oklahoma and other Great Plains states, a new study on the business and economic effects of climate change concludes. Continue Reading

To Get Permit in Earthquake Zone, Disposal Well Operator Agrees to Extra Monitoring

An oil company seeking to build a disposal well in earthquake-prone Logan County has agreed to record additional pressure and volume measurements to get a permit from the state’s oil and gas regulator.

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission on Thursday voted 2-0 to approve the disposal well for Kansas-based Slawson Exploration. Commissioner Dana Murphy abstained from the vote “saying she wanted to wait until more seismic data was available,” The Oklahoman‘s Paul Monies reports:

Slawson agreed to record daily pressure and volume rates on the disposal well. It also will run a bottom-hole pressure test prior to injection and every 60 days for up to six months.

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Environmental Groups Ask EPA to Regulate Air Pollution from Oil and Gas Wells

An oil well near a neighborhood in Yukon, Okla.

bjmccray / flickr

An oil well near a neighborhood in Yukon, Okla.

An alliance of national and state environmental groups on Tuesday asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to set air pollution limits on oil and gas wells and production equipment.

The petition — prepared by Earthjustice, the Sierra Club and the National Resources Defense Council and signed by more than 60 other groups — asks the EPA to issue rules limiting air pollution from oil and gas wells in cities, suburbs and other populated areas.

Nine states are mentioned specifically in the petition, including Oklahoma, where the groups identified 23,646 oil and gas wells in populated areas. Continue Reading

Drier, Hotter, More Extreme Weather: How Climate Change is Already Affecting Oklahoma

A supercell near Courtney, Okla., in April 2014.

ravedelay / Flickr

A supercell near Courtney, Okla., in April 2014.

A new federal report bluntly warns that every region of the United States is already observing climate change-related effects to the environment and economy.

In Oklahoma and other Great Plains states, climate change from carbon emissions is changing crop growth cycles, increasing energy and water demand, altering rainfall patterns and leading to more frequent extreme weather and climate events, the report concludes.

The magnitude of those changes is expected to increase throughout Oklahoma’s region, according to the report. And researchers say current planning efforts to respond and adapt to climate change are “inadequate.”

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Gov. Mary Fallin Signs Distributed Electricity Generation Bill

Gov. Mary Fallin on Monday signed Senate Bill 1456, a measure that would allow regulated electric utilities to charge customers who generate electricity from rooftop solar panels or small wind turbines.

The bill allows utilities to create a new customer class, The Oklahoman‘s Paul Monies reports: Continue Reading

Accidents on the Rise, But State Law on Digging Near Pipelines Unenforced and ‘Riddled’ With Exemptions

Many entities are exempted from state rules regulating digging near pipelines, and no state agency has the authority to punish those who cause digging-related accidents.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Signs warn excavators to call before digging near underground pipelines, but many entities are exempted from such rules. And no state agency has the authority to punish those who cause digging-related pipeline accidents.

Most pipeline accidents in Oklahoma are caused by digging, and the state’s rate of digging-related pipeline accidents — which have resulted in eight deaths and 10 injuries — is on the rise.

But Oklahoma’s pipeline law is “riddled with exemptions and lacks an enforcement mechanism,” which could mean intervention from the federal government, The Oklahoman‘s Paul Monies reports:

If the state doesn’t act, the federal government could step in to use its enforcement authority for pipeline excavation accidents and for issuing civil penalties. The state also could lose out on federal grants for the Call Okie service and other damage prevention programs.

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Disposal Well Shutdown After Swarm of Earthquakes in South-Central Oklahoma

Disposal Well

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

A Love County disposal well was shutdown last week after a state seismologist suggested it might have triggered a swarm of damaging earthquakes that shook the area for weeks in September.

The well, located near Marietta, was new, and waste fluid injection started on Sept. 3. The quakes started two weeks later, on Sept. 17, EnergyWire’s Mike Soraghan reports.

The strongest was magnitude 3.4, and they have damaged chimneys, broken windows, and caused objects to fall in homes and businesses.

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OG&E Asks Federal Judge to Dismiss EPA Lawsuit

Oklahoma Gas and Electric on Sept. 6 asked a federal judge to dismiss the Environmental Protection Agency’s lawsuit over emission estimates from upgrades at two of its coal-fired power plants.

Attorneys for the electric utility, Oklahoma’s largest, claim the EPA’s suit should be thrown out because “there has been no demonstrated injury to the Government or the environment.”

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Damaged Land Could Once Again Cost Oklahoma Mining Regulator Its Federal Funding

Coal mining can cause a lot of damage to the landscape, and the federal government has rules about how mining companies are supposed to treat the land after they’re done with it.

Basically, they’re supposed to return it to approximately what it was like before.

The federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement is charged with making sure the Oklahoma Department of Mines is enforcing that rule. If the Oklahoma mining regulator doesn’t, the feds can step in and take over that role.

A new report from the U.S. Department of the Interior claims some Oklahoma mining companies aren’t properly returning land to its original state, and even skirting the regulations entirely.

In addition to poor reclamation practices, the Tulsa Field Office told us about numerous instances of surface mining operators in Oklahoma halting active mining at sites while claiming that they intend to return to mining at a future date. Because these mines are technically still open, they do not have to be reclaimed immediately, in effect allowing operators to circumvent AOC (approximate original contour) requirements.

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