Economy, Energy, Natural Resources: Policy to People

Watch Oklahoma’s Inhofe and Pruitt Spar With EPA Over ‘Waters of the U.S.’ Rule

A rare joint Congressional hearing in Washington Wednesday took up the issue of “Waters of the United States,” the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s attempt to more clearly define which bodies of water qualify for federal protection under the Clean Water Act.

Republicans at the hearing — including Oklahoma’s senior senator and state attorney general — are convinced the move is a vast overreach of the EPA’s power that will place everything from ditches to farm ponds under government control.

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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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“State Orders Injection Well Shut Down After Northwestern Oklahoma Earthquake”

The Corporation Commission ordered SandRidge Energy to shut down a disposal well after earthquakes in Alfalfa County near the Kansas border, the Tulsa World reports.

The commission held a hearing Nov. 26 on SandRidge’s permit application due to staff concerns about earthquakes in the area, records show. SandRidge asked to dispose of up to 80,000 barrels of wastewater per day, or 29 million barrels per year. During the hearing, commission staff testified that the well was one mile from recent earthquakes. SandRidge had agreed to submit additional data to the commission on the amount of wastewater it was disposing and the amount of pressure used in the process.

Read more at: www.tulsaworld.com

Litigation and Low Prices Drill Oil Industry in Osage County


Esteban Monclova / Flickr

After dipping to its lowest level in years, the price of oil may have bottomed out. Reuters reports prices rose again on Tuesday behind expectations of diminished oil supplies. That will come as welcome news, if little consolation, for oil-field service companies in Osage County hard hit by the recent downturn in the industry.

The Journal Record‘s D. Ray Tuttle was at an Osage Producers Association meeting January 31 where “businesspeople and local, state and federal officials met … to hear about the effects of the downturn” and how an ongoing lawsuit against the producers is making a bad situation worse. Continue Reading

State Seismologist to WaPo: Oil Industry Has Tried to Influence Earthquake Research

Oklahoma Geological Survey seismologist Austin Holland.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma Geological Survey seismologist Austin Holland.

Washington Post reporter Lori Montgomery traveled central Oklahoma and filed a story about Oklahoma’s earthquake swarm, an examination that included interviews from concerned residents, politicians and Sandra Ladra, who was injured in the 5.7-magnitude November 2011 earthquake and filed a lawsuit seeking damages from oil copanies she says are liable.

Montgomery also interviewed a cadre of university, federal and state scientists, who suggest at least some of the shaking has likely been triggered by disposal wells. A few lines, in particular, stood out: Continue Reading

Why Oklahoma Ranchers Are Getting More Federal Drought Aid Than Any Other State


AgriLife Today / Flickr

Since the current drought in western Oklahoma began, ranchers have collected more than $800 million in federal drought relief payments that aid livestock producers. That’s more than any other state, including California and Texas, which have larger cattle industries, The Oklahoman‘s Silas Allen reports.

Here’s why:

[USDA meteorologist Brad Rippey] said the difference is likely due to the fact that Oklahoma’s drought has been less widespread but longer-lasting than California’s. While western Oklahoma has been withering under drought since late 2010, the worst conditions didn’t strike California until 2013, he said. Continue Reading

Bills Filed to Stop Local Bans on Oil and Gas Production

Pedestal Oil first proposed drilling at Lake Hefner in 2011, but the plan met stiff opposition from several groups.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Hundreds gathered at a public meeting in Oklahoma City to hear about an oil company's proposal to drill near Lake Hefner.

Several bills filed for the upcoming 2015 legislate session rein in the power cities and counties have to regulate drilling and oil and gas production.

The Oklahoman‘s Paul Monies reports:

At least eight bills have been filed that would stop cities and counties from banning drilling operations, including proposals from top leaders in the House and Senate.

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Oklahoma Supreme Court to Decide Lawsuit Over Earthquake Near Prague, Okla.

Seismologists say oil and natural gas disposal wells, like this one near Sparks, Okla., are likely triggering earthquakes in Oklahoma.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Seismologists say oil and natural gas disposal wells, like this one near Sparks, Okla., are likely triggering earthquakes in Oklahoma.

The state’s highest court will consider whether two oil companies can be held liable for injuries a woman suffered during the 2011 earthquake near Prague, Okla.

The 5.7-magnitude earthquake was the state’s largest recorded with modern instruments, and is the largest quake scientists have linked to disposal wells, a type of well oil and gas companies use to pump full of wastewater, a byproduct of oil and gas drilling.

The case is “expected to set a precedent for future earthquake claims,” The Tulsa World‘s Ziva Branstetter reports: Continue Reading

“Apex Will Sell Kingfisher Wind Farm that Drew Opposition From Some Nearby Landowners”

Apex Clean Energy’s 298-megawatt Kingfisher Wind farm under construction between Piedmont and Kingfisher will be sold to the First Reserve Corp, NewsOK reports.

The $425 million project, announced in 2012, has drawn criticism from some nearby landowners not happy about having a wind farm near their property. City officials in Piedmont deemed the project a “public nuisance” until a settlement was reached taking some planned turbine locations outside city limits. A group of landowners and the Oklahoma Wind Action Association sued Apex and several associated companies in federal court last year, claiming the Kingfisher wind farm would threaten their health and safety. Apex wants a judge to dismiss the case, saying any claims of harm were speculative.

Read more at: newsok.com

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