“Injection Wells in Faults Could Trigger Earthquakes, Devon Executive Chairman Says”

Speeking Wednesday to the Tulsa Rotary Club, co-founder and executive chairman of Devon Energy Larry Nichols acknowledged injecting drilling wastewater “into a fault zone could cause an earthquake to happen sooner.”


When asked whether the government and industry should gather data to study the issue more, Nichols said: “Whether the injection of the water into the water-disposal well actually causes it or not doesn’t really matter. It might, and so don’t inject water into a disposal well where there’s a fault zone.”

Read more at: www.tulsaworld.com

Oklahoma AG Scott Pruitt Says ‘Alliance’ With Energy Industry Wasn’t Secret

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt shakes hands at the state capitol after the annual State of the State address.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt shakes hands at the state capitol after the annual State of the State address.

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt confirmed Monday that he has worked with the energy industry to push back against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Obama administration’s regulatory agenda, but denied how The New York Times characterized those efforts, which were detailed in a story published over the weekend.

Pruitt’s alliance with energy companies isn’t a secret at all, basically. The Oklahoman‘s Randy Ellis reports:

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How Low Oil Prices Could Block an Oklahoma Tax Cut

ok-pumpjack

Katsrcool / flickr

Gov. Mary Fallin in April 2014 signed into law a measure designed to gradually lower Oklahoma’s top income tax rate to 4.85 percent from 5.25 percent.

But those income tax cuts only go into effect if Oklahoma’s revenues rise, and the slumping price of crude oil — $63.57 per barrel of West Texas Intermediate at the time of this posting — could block the tax-cut trigger, The Oklahoman‘s Rick Green reports:

Collections from the gross production tax on oil and natural gas dropped below prior year collections in November for the first time in 19 months, down by $3.72 million or 5.3 percent. However, this reflects production from September, when oil was $93 a barrel. It is now about $66, so tax collections are expected to drop further. Oil hit a peak of $106 in June.

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NY Times: Oklahoma’s Scott Pruitt a Leader in ‘Secretive Alliance’ Between Attorneys General and Energy Industry

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt prepares to greet Gov. Mary Fallin at the 2013 State of the State address at the state capitol.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt prepares to greet Gov. Mary Fallin at the 2013 State of the State address at the state capitol.

Attorneys general in at least a dozen states have formed an ‘unprecedented, secretive alliance’ with the energy industry to fight federal environmental regulations, The New York Times Eric Lipton reports. Continue Reading

“Federal Authorities Seek Immediate Halt to Osage County Wind Development”

U.S. Attorney Danny C. Williams requested the injunction this week, The Tulsa World reports.


This new request for a preliminary injunction, if granted, would “put an immediate halt to the unauthorized mining activities now taking place,” according to a statement from the tribe. The developers have argued that building a turbine foundation doesn’t count as “mining activity.” The construction is on private property and the owners have lease agreements with Enel Green Power North America, part of Italian utility giant Enel.

Read more at: www.tulsaworld.com

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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Environmentalists: Regional Haze Ruling in Texas Means Cleaner Air in Oklahoma

Oklahoma Gas & Electric's coal-fired Sooner Plant near Red Rock, Okla.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma Gas & Electric's coal-fired Sooner Plant near Red Rock, Okla.

On Nov. 24, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced its determination that Texas’ plan to reduce haze-causing emissions from its coal-fired power plants wouldn’t do enough to clear the air at national parks and wildlife refuges, including the Wichita National Wildlife Refuge in southwest Oklahoma.

Instead, the EPA will set the standards, which will likely force some plants to switch to natural gas or install expensive air scrubbers. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality didn’t take the news well, saying the EPA’s requirements would cost electricity customers billions of dollars for “a negligible increase in visibility.” Continue Reading

State Regulators: Stricter Ozone Standard Would be Hard for Oklahoma to Meet

Ozone is a major contributor to smog, seen here blanketing Los Angeles.

mr-pi / flickr

Ozone is a major contributor to smog, seen here blanketing Los Angeles.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal for stricter ozone standards has been praised by environmentalists as a step in the right direction and derided by industry groups, which argue the rules will cost jobs and lead to higher prices for electricity and natural gas.

In Oklahoma, local government officials say tougher rules aren’t needed because ozone levels are already improving, and the state Department of Environmental Quality says the state would have a hard time meeting the proposed rules, which would reduce ozone standard from 75 parts per billon to between 65 and 70. Continue Reading

EPA Rejects Texas’ Plan to Reduce Haze at Oklahoma Wildlife Refuge

Meers area resident Bill Cunningham looks for haze over the Wichita Mountains from the top of Mt. Scott.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Meers area resident Bill Cunningham looks for haze over the Wichita Mountains from the top of Mt. Scott.

Oklahoma’s largest utility companies will spend more than $1 billion to upgrade coal-fired power plants or retire them in favor of natural gas, all to comply with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Regional Haze Rule, which is meant to improve visibility at national parks and wildlife refuges.

But as StateImpact reported, the haze issues at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge near Lawton are being caused by power plants in Texas, not Oklahoma, and concerned residents in the area wanted to see plants in Texas held to the same standard as the ones here.

On Monday, they got their wish. Continue Reading

New York Times: A ‘Blue Light Special’ on Wind Power in Oklahoma

The 147-megawatt Weatherford Wind Energy Center.

Travel Aficionado / Flickr

The 147-megawatt Weatherford Wind Energy Center.

The cost of producing and providing electricity generated by solar panels and wind turbines has plunged in recent years, and are on track to meet — and in some markets are already beating — the generation costs of conventional sources like coal and natural gas.

Price parity has been a “long-held dream” of the solar and wind industries, The New York TimesDiane Cardwell reports. And alternative energy is proving competitive to conventional energy sources — especially in Oklahoma:

In September, the Grand River Dam Authority in Oklahoma announced its approval of a new agreement to buy power from a new wind farm expected to be completed next year. Grand River estimated the deal would save its customers roughly $50 million from the project. Continue Reading

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