Oklahoma’s wheat crop can’t catch a break. This year’s wheat suffered under some of the worst drought classifications and endured a damaging late freeze. And when the rain finally came, it was at the worst possible time.
With drought in retreat — at least for the moment — the U.S. cattle herd, which has been severely damaged by shrinking water supplies and withering grazing land in the face of rising demand, might begin to trend back up.
The Journal Record‘s Brian Brus reports 87.7 million head of cattle were held by U.S. farmers and ranchers in January, and that the number hasn’t been that low since the early 1950s. But Oklahoma State University agriculture economist Darrell Peel tells that paper there are signs of growth:
“We won’t have data to confirm a turnaround yet, at least not until the midyear cattle numbers come out in late July,” Peel said. “But the early indications from cow slaughter and heifer slaughter — as well as just looking at the conditions as hard-hit drought areas start to see a little rain — suggest that we’re going to see some herd building soon.
“As a state, Oklahoma is seeing herd expansion. It’s fairly modest, but at least it’s the beginnings of expansion,” he said.
The ongoing drought is by no means over, with large chunks of western Oklahoma still experiencing the worst category. But all the recent rain certainly doesn’t hurt.
When the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last week proposed new rules to cut carbon emissions by 30 percent, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt — predictably — blasted the plan as another example of federal overreach in the Obama Administration’s war on fossil fuels.
And the same day the EPA announced its CO2 emission goal, Pruitt was already making a case for litigation over it.
“The EPA can’t force utility companies to actually incorporate emission control measures unless they’re achievable through technology,” Pruitt tells StateImpact. “And here, there really isn’t any demonstrated technology that will see a reduction of 30 percent.”Continue Reading
Oklahoma Gas and Electric — the state’s largest utility — was resistant to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s regional haze rule, which means to clear the air at national parks and wildlife refuges, and was part of a challenge to the rule the U.S. Supreme Court recently refused to hear.
So, as The Oklahoman‘s Paul Monies reports, OG&E is — begrudgingly — planning to convert two of its coal-fired units at its Muskogee power plant to natural gas, install air scrubbers at its Sooner plant, and make other changes to comply with federal rules the company says will cause customers’ electricity bills to rise substantially: Continue Reading
A controversial bill setting the effective tax rate on new oil and gas wells was one of the capstones of the 2014 legislative session.
Gov. Mary Fallin signed the measure on May 28, ending months of intense debate and oil industry lobbying. But the bill is already headed for a legal challenge, and some of the constitutional questions could have a far-reaching effect because they could define the very words and terms lawmakers use to fund government in Oklahoma.Continue Reading
At a public meeting on Tuesday, residents in Norman — where the water system is stressed due to population growth and age, and drought has taken a toll on already troubled Lake Thunderbird — heard about the city’s two options for water sustainability through 2060.
The Norman Transcript‘s Joy Hampton reports both options would keep Lake Thunderbird and the city’s wells as the main water sources, and continue the push toward conservation that has already “reduced the per-capita demand.”
Oklahoma is the first state in the country to allow municipalities to use the oil and gas industry’s disposal wells to get rid of wastewater that’s too salty to be released into waterways damaged by drought.
The U.S. Environmental Protection agency on Monday announced an ambitious plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions at existing coal-fired power plants across the country as part of President Barack Obama’s push to curb climate change.
Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt blasted the move, saying in a statement the plan “has no legal basis or the force of law.”
“It will undoubtedly lead to higher electricity rates, job losses and increased manufacturing costs as coal-fired power plants, which provide 40 percent of our baseload power, are taken offline,” Pruitt says.
But officials with the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign in Oklahoma says keeping the current rules unchanged will be more costly because communities are already paying to deal with carbon pollution-fueled “climate disruption,” like flooding, wildfires and extreme heat.
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.