Economy, Energy, Natural Resources: Policy to People

Anadarko’s $5 Billion Environmental Settlement: 4 Things Okies Should Know

A Kerr-McGee service station and refinery in Wynnewood, photographed in 1974.

Kerr-McGee Corporation Collection / Oklahoma Historical Society

A Kerr-McGee service station and refinery in Wynnewood, photographed in 1974.

Anadarko Petroleum on Thursday agreed to pay more than $5 billion for an immense environmental cleanup that includes U.S. sites contaminated by nuclear fuel, rocket fuel waste and wood creosote.

The case was brought by a trust representing the U.S. government, 11 states, Indian tribes and individuals affected by the contamination, and sought funds for cleanups at 2,700 sites in 47 states.

“If you are responsible for 85 years of poisoning the earth, then you are responsible for cleaning it up,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement about the settlement. “That’s why this case was brought.

Here’s what Oklahomans need to know: Continue Reading

Broadband Internet Providers Struggling to Keep Pace With Rural Oklahoma Oil Boom

The oil and gas boom has meant a lot of business for communities like Elk City and Weatherford, but the technological demands of the modern energy industry is encountering roadblocks in rural Oklahoma.

There just isn’t enough high-speed broadband internet in Oklahoma’s oil patch, The Journal Record‘s Sarah Terry-Cobo reports, and telecommunication companies are racing to lay fiber-optic cables and expand wireless access:

“What we’ve seen in some smaller rural towns, if they don’t have high-speed broadband, it is crippling economic growth,” said Kerry Graves, vice president of sales for transport and telecom solutions with Dobson. Continue Reading

Some Parks Oklahoma Offloaded to Save Money Are Thriving Under Local Control

Mike Hancock has been the manager at Brushy Lake Park since 1980.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Mike Hancock has been the manager at Brushy Lake Park since 1980.

In April 2011, Oklahoma was dealing with a half-billion dollar budget shortfall, and the state tourism department had just decided to offload seven of its parks to save money.

Three years later, StateImpact finds that all seven parks are still open, and at least two — Brushy Lake Park and Beaver Dunes Park — are thriving.

Continue Reading

“EPA to Review Cleanup of Oklahoma City Superfund Site”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will conduct a five-year review of Oklahoma City’s Mosley Road Sanitary Landfill, which became a Superfund in 1992 and completed the process in 2004.

About 2 million gallons of pesticides, industrial solvents, sludge, waste chemicals and emulsions were deposited into three unlined pits at the 72-acre site near NE 36 and Sooner Road between 1971 and 1987. Contaminants such as benzene and vinyl chloride were found in ground water. More than 50,000 people, including residents of Midwest City and Spencer, obtain drinking water from public or private wells within three miles of the site. Environmental regulators have been working hard to ensure those contaminants remain contained and are kept out of the water supply. The site is fenced and the pits where the waste was dumped are covered with about 80 feet of solid refuse and fill, topped with a clay cap.

Read more at: newsok.com

Why Small Solar and Wind Generators Are Worried About Surcharge Legislation

Solar panel and wind turbine technology is improving rapidly, and many small-scale customers are excited by the potential to generate electricity and sell it — outright, or for credit — back to the grid.

But proposed legislation, Senate Bill 1456, would levy a monthly surcharge on small generators, The Oklahoman‘s Paul Monies reports. Wind and solar advocates say it’s an attempt by electric utilities to undermine distributed power generation. The utilities say small electricity generators need to pay to use the electric grid itself.

Steve Wilke, with Delta Engineering and Design in Norman, said the bill creates a lot of uncertainty for his startup business, which designs and installs residential solar and wind systems. He won’t be able to offer customers an accurate estimate on savings when they could be subject to monthly service charges. Continue Reading

To Frack Wells in Norman, Driller Buys City Drinking Water Right From the Hydrant

Fire Hydrant

Alphageek / Flickr

For a fee, most municipalities will give contractors and other industrial users a special water meter and temporary access to a city fire hydrant. The meters and hydrant access are often used for construction sites, and the buyer usually pays a higher per-gallon water rate for the high-flow access.

But there’s an unusual industrial customer buying water from the City of Norman, The Journal Record’s Sarah Terry-Cobo reports: Finley Resources, a Texas drilling company that’s using the water for fracking:

While it’s not clear how much water Finley and its contractors use, no ordinance specifically prohibits the city from selling drinking water for industrial purposes. Ward 2 City Councilman Tom Kovach said if a business wants to purchase water for a construction project, the staff wouldn’t make a judgment call to deny a permit if an ordinance doesn’t specifically prohibit it.

Continue Reading

City of Duncan Considers Drastic Measures As Its Main Water Source Dries Up


J. Stephen Conn / Flickr

Southwestern Oklahoma continues to be brutalized as it heads into a fourth consecutive year of drought, and for the City of Duncan, a real water crisis is in the works.

Waurika Lake, which provides water to several communities in the area, is in danger of drying up completely by next year, News9.com’s Evan Anderson reports:

There could be a total ban on the outdoor use of water, if Waurika Lake water levels dip below a certain level. City officials don’t believe residents understand the severity of the water problem.

“It’s never been this low before,” said Jack Jackson. “This is the lowest it’s been in the history of it.”

Jack Jackson is on the water resources board. He says with no significant rain in the future, Waurika Lake will be completely dry, by next year.

“And after that, it’s going to be up to what we can negotiate with the Army Corps of Engineers,” said Jackson.

Continue Reading

“Even Without Approval, Keystone XL Pipeline Boosts Business”

While the federal government hasn’t decided whether it will approve the northern route of the Keystone XL pipeline, the project, even though it’s in limbo, is still employing vendors and contractors in more than a dozen states.

But the 1,179-mile crude oil project has already transformed Pipeline Equipment Inc., which has fabricated pipeline valves for TransCanada since 2008. Employment has soared 70 percent – growing from 50 employees to 85 today, said Jack Lollis, president of Pipeline Equipment. PE is one of dozens of vendors across 17 states producing parts for the project.

Read more at: journalrecord.com

“Study: $6 Billion Spent On Oklahoma Wind Energy”

A industry-commissioned study shows developers have invested $6 billion in Oklahoma’s wind industry, which has 26 active wind farms and provides $22 million a year in payments to landowners.

Oklahoma’s wind farms have more than 3,000 megawatts of electricity generation capacity. Improvements will provide more than $43 million in property taxes to municipalities and school districts, and the projects provide more than $22 million a year in payments to local landowners. Nearly 15 percent of the electricity generated in Oklahoma came from wind power last year. Oklahoma wind energy projects range in capacity from 40 to 300 megawatts.

Read more at: kgou.org

Why One Oklahoma Oil Executive Doesn’t Think Oil and Gas Tax Cuts Are Needed

Don Millican, the Chief Financial Officer of Kaiser-Francis Oil Company.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Don Millican, the Chief Financial Officer of Kaiser-Francis Oil Company.

The Kaiser-Francis Oil Company has a lot in common with other storied Oklahoma energy empires. The company has by-the-bootstrap entrepreneurial origins, it’s been battered by boom and bust, and it’s helmed by a billionaire CEO who has weathered controversy and been showered with praise.

But the Tulsa-based exploration and production company is unique in one surprising way: It isn’t pushing for oil and gas tax cuts.

Continue Reading

About StateImpact

StateImpact seeks to inform and engage local communities with broadcast and online news focused on how state government decisions affect your lives.
Learn More »