Oklahoma

Economy, Energy, Natural Resources: Policy to People

EPA Settles With Ponca City Carbon Black Plant Owner Over Air Pollution

Photo of the Ponca City Continental Carbon plant from NPR's 2011 investigation Poisoned Places: Toxic Air, Neglected Communities.

David Gilkey / NPR

Photo of the Ponca City Continental Carbon plant from NPR's 2011 investigation Poisoned Places: Toxic Air, Neglected Communities.

settlement agreement announced Monday between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Continental Carbon will cost the Houston company nearly $100 million.

Continental owns plants in Texas, Alabama, and in Ponca City, Okla., that produce a powdery substance called carbon black, which is used in a variety of everyday items, including tires, plastic, printer ink. Continue Reading

“Crude Oil Storage at Cushing, But Not Storage Capacity Utilization Rate, at Record Level”

While record-breaking amounts of crude oil are being stored inside tanks at the oil hub in Cushing, Okla., the hub itself is not as full as it has been in the past — because the hub itself is growing.

As explained in a previous article, utilization can be difficult to calculate, because EIA’s reported inventory levels also include crude oil that is not in storage tanks. This larger inventory is in pipelines, and includes lease stocks (oil that has been produced but not yet entered into the supply chain), and crude oil in transit from Alaska (which only applies to inventories in the West Coast region). At a national level, including these volumes in storage utilization calculations tends to overestimate storage utilization. At a specific site such as Cushing, though, this is less of a concern because there are no volumes in lease stocks and no crude oil in transit from Alaska.

Read more at: www.eia.gov

Now Showing: Oil Downturn’s Effect on Oklahoma Employment Numbers

Rig Worker

Energy Tomorrow / Flickr

Oklahoma lost about 500 mining industry jobs between December and January, data from the Oklahoma Employment Securities Commission show.

Almost all in-state “mining” jobs are actually in oil and gas drilling, The Journal Record‘s Sarah Terry-Cobo reports. And while the job losses haven’t yet affected the state’s unemployment rate, currently 3.9 percent, oil sector employment will likely take a big hit in the months to come, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City’s bulletin The Oklahoma Economist.

“Based just on these past basic relationships between oil prices and Oklahoma economic activity, it seems likely that mining employment in the state will decline significantly in 2015,” according to the bulletin. Continue Reading

“Oklahoma Hiring Freeze Shows No Letup in Oil States’ Fiscal Pain”

Oklahoma officials have instituted a hiring and salary freeze and is considering tapping reserve funds to help fill a $611 million budget hole fuled by tumbling oil prices.


While Oklahoma isn’t as vulnerable as some states to tumbling oil prices, it’s increasingly reliant on energy. The industry generates about 14 percent of household earnings, the most in data going back to 1969, said Mark Snead, president of RegionTrack, which provides analysis to the state tax commission.

“Oil is a big factor in Oklahoma’s budget because of the effect it has on the rest of the economy,” Shelly Paulk, deputy budget director, said in an interview. “So when you lose jobs out on an oil rig out in western Oklahoma, that’s income tax that’s not coming in. That’s sales tax that’s not coming in.”

Read more at: www.bloomberg.com

Local Officials Raise New Questions as Anti-Frack Ban Legislation Makes Progress

Volunteers watching the polls in November 2014 in Denton, Texas, before voters approved a citywide ban on hydraulic fracturing.

Photomancer / Flickr

Volunteers watching the polls in November 2014 in Denton, Texas, before voters approved a citywide ban on hydraulic fracturing.

As legislation written to prevent counties and municipalities from banning hydraulic fracturing and other oil and gas activities advances through the Oklahoma House and Senate, some city leaders and their advocates say the measures go too far and could have unintended consequences.

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Lack Of Expertise And Equipment Led To Unnecessary Closure A Grand Lake Beach

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Larry / Flickr

In 2011, blue-green algae blooms caused the Grand River Dam Authority to warn the public to avoid bodily contact with the water in northeast Oklahoma’s Grand Lake. So last year, few questioned the decision to keep the Bernice Area beach closed for five months after an algae outbreak there. As the Tulsa World‘s Randy Krehbiel reports “it began with goose poop:” Continue Reading

“U.S. Crude Oil Stockpiles Shoot up as Cushing Sets Record – EIA”

Booming production, low prices and softening worldwide demand has led to record-setting crude oil storage at the oil hub in Cushing, Okla., EIA data show.

Crude inventories rose by 9.6 million barrels in the last week, compared with analysts’ expectations for an increase of 3.8 million barrels. Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub rose by 2.865 million barrels, EIA said. The increase brings Cushing to an all-time record since the EIA began tracking the hub. Refinery crude runs rose by 136,000 barrels per day, EIA data showed. Refinery utilization rates rose by 0.3 percentage points.

Read more at: www.reuters.com

Duncan Left Wanting After State Drought Assistance For Water Project Falls Through

20142803-DuncanDrought

J. Stephen Conn / Flickr

Duncan, Oklahoma has taken some of the worst of the drought these past five years. Stage 5 water rationing is in effect, which means — with few exceptions — a ban on all outside watering.

One option the city was looking at to relieve its drought disaster was to pump water from nearby Clear Creek Lake, but as The Oklahoman‘s Silas Allen reports, funding from that project will have to come from somewhere other than the Oklahoma Water Resources Board: Continue Reading

‘Right-to-Farm’ Inches Closer to Ballot After Breezing Through Oklahoma House

Attendees listen as former Missouri state senator Wes Shoemeyer speaks against Amendment 1 at the Missouri’s Food for America sign-making event at Café Berlin Friday, June 27, 2014 in Columbia, Missouri.

KOMUnews / flickr

Attendees listen as former Missouri state senator Wes Shoemeyer speaks against Amendment 1 at the Missouri’s Food for America sign-making event at Café Berlin Friday, June 27, 2014 in Columbia, Missouri.

A bill that would allow voters to decide if the state Constitution should be changed to guarantee “the right of farmers and ranchers to employ agricultural technology and livestock production and ranching practices” passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives without debate Thursday.

It now heads to the Senate, where it’s also expected to meet widespread support.

Right-to-farm is a controversial national issue that barely passed in Missouri in November 2014. The effort pits agricultural interests against, specifically, the Humane Society of the United States, which House Joint Resolution 1012‘s author, Scott Biggs, R-Chickasha, mentioned when introducing his bill on the House floor: Continue Reading

Why Oklahoma’s Newest Lake Might be Built by Fort Smith, Arkansas

Fort Smith Public Utilities Director Steve Parke.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Fort Smith Public Utilities Director Steve Parke.

In Oklahoma, the natural beauty of Lee Creek — one of the state’s scenic rivers — is protected by state law. In Arkansas, Lee Creek is an important water source for fast-growing Fort Smith. Now, Fort Smith has a plan to turn Lee Creek into Oklahoma’s next lake, and reignite a dispute that was settled more than 20 years ago.

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