Oklahoma

Economy, Energy, Natural Resources: Policy to People

Woman Injured in 2011 Earthquake Suing Disposal Well Operators

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

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

A disposal well near Prague, Okla.

The 5.7-magnitude earthquake that struck near Prague, Okla., in November 2011 toppled Sandra Ladra’s chimney, raining rocks “on her lap and legs.”

Ladra on Aug. 4 filed a lawsuit against energy companies that operate disposal wells she claims caused the quake. She is seeking $75,000 in actual damages plus punitive damages, the Journal Record‘s D. Ray Tuttle reports.

Ladra alleges that injection wells operated by Cleveland-based Spess Oil Co., Tulsa-based New Dominion LLC and 25 other companies not yet named led to the earthquakes that damaged her home and injured her.

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Third Salt Fork River Fish-Kill in Three Years Fits Mysterious Pattern

For the third year in a row, a large-scale fish-kill has been reported on the Salt Fork River in north-central Oklahoma.

“Hundreds and maybe thousands” of catfish, carp, buffalo and other bottom-feeding fish were likely killed, says Skylar McElhaney, spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality.

The cause of these fish-kills is mysterious, but a pattern is emerging. Continue Reading

Oklahoma State Parks Director Says State Parks ‘Not on the List’ of Core Services

Shaun Pelkey and his daughter Ireland Pelkey enjoy the afternoon at one of Walnut Creek State Park's beaches on Keystone Lake.

Logan Layden / StateImpactOklahoma

Shaun Pelkey and his daughter Ireland Pelkey enjoy the afternoon at one of Walnut Creek State Park's beaches on Keystone Lake.

State tourism officials are considering closing or transferring four more state parks. The agency, like many, has had its budget cut over the past four years, but the decision to defund state parks is about more than money.

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Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt Sues EPA Over Federal Clean Power Plan

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.

When StateImpact reported on President Barack Obama’s proposal to cut carbon emissions 30 percent nationally by 2030, mainly through less reliance on coal-fired power plants, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s reaction made it clear a lawsuit was coming.

On Tuesday, it became official. Oklahoma joined West Virginia — which is leading the case — and 10 other states to sue the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

From The Oklahoman‘s Paul Monies:

The attorneys general —11 Republicans and one Democrat — contend the agency doesn’t have the legal authority to issue the proposed rules under Section 11(d) of the Clean Air Act. They said the proposed rules are in conflict with a 2011 settlement the EPA signed with some other states after a lawsuit brought by several environmental groups.

Pruitt said the 2011 settlement said the EPA would use another section of the Clean Air Act to regulate emissions from power plants and stationary sources.

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Mapped: Which Oklahoma Counties are Crossed by Trainloads of Bakken Crude Oil

Source: Oklahoma Hazardous Materials Emergency Response Commission

Trains carrying 1 million or more gallons of crude oil from the Bakken formation are expected to cross 20 Oklahoma counties each week, data from the Oklahoma Hazardous Materials Emergency Response Commission show.

Explosive, deadly derailments and fiery accidents have raised safety concerns about rail transport of Bakken crude oil, which tests suggest might be more flammable and explosive than other types of crude oil. Continue Reading

“Not their Fault? Oil Industry Geologist Looks Globally for Cause of Quakes”

At a July technical conference sponsored by the Oklahoma City Geological Society, Glen Brown, vice president of geology at Continental Resources Inc,” said global shifts in the Earth’s tectonic plates are more likely to blame for the tremors in Oklahoma.”


Brown said global shifts in the Earth’s tectonic plates are more likely to blame for the tremors in Oklahoma. Three of six of the world’s largest earthquakes happened in the 1950s and 1960s. Oklahoma had an earthquake swarm around that time in the 1950s, including the state’s second-largest quake, a 5.5 magnitude in El Reno in 1952.

Read more at: journalrecord.com

State Senator Calls for Federal Task Force on Oklahoma Earthquakes

State Sen. Jerry Ellis, D-Valiant, opposes the sale or transfer of Oklahoma water to Texas.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact

State Sen. Jerry Ellis, D-Valiant.

State Sen. Jerry Ellis on Monday suggested that a federal task force be formed to develop a statewide earthquake “emergency action plan.”

The task force would be charged with examining and evaluating scientific studies related to Oklahoma’s earthquake swarm, which a growing chorus of scientists say is likely linked to disposal wells used by the oil and gas industry, and make recommendations on possible solutions, according to a press release from the House Democratic Caucus. Continue Reading

Dwindling Drought Doesn’t Mean a Slowdown in Water Conservation Efforts

The July 29 update of the U.S. Drought Monitor, which doesn't reflect the full impact of this week's rainfall.

U.S. Drought Monitor

The July 29 update of the U.S. Drought Monitor, which doesn't reflect the full impact of this week's rainfall.

Despite more than 80 percent of the state still being under some level of drought, recent wet weather and below average temperatures continue to reduce the severity and size of drought in Oklahoma.

As The Oklahoman‘s Graham Lee Brewer Reports, this week’s rainfall “bookended one of the wettest July’s on record for the state, with some areas receiving more than seven inches of rain.”

Including data reported just before 6 p.m. Wednesday, the statewide Oklahoma Mesonet rainfall average of rate past 30 days was 3.89 inches — 1.11 inches above normal.

That number equates to the 22nd-wettest such period dating to 1921, state climatologist Gary McManus said.

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“Major Oil Field Spill in Kingfisher County”

Corporation Commission officials say this may be the “biggest spill from fracking” the agency has ever handled.


Nearly 500 barrels of acid spilled in an alfalfa field Monday morning. The chemical HCL is used for fracking operations. There’s concern heavy rain will push the runoff into nearby Turkey Creek, which flows into Hennessey’s water system. The Corporation Commission is overseeing the cleanup of the acid spill just south of town. Their top priority is keeping the powerful chemical from getting into the water.

Read more at: www.koco.com

U.S. Wildlife Authorities Join State in Investigation of Owl Deaths at Oil Field Site

Officials found several dead birds in an open tank at this oilfield site in northwest Oklahoma.

Provided / Oklahoma Corporation Commission

Officials found several dead birds in this open saltwater tank at an oilfield site in northwest Oklahoma.

Federal authorities have joined state officials in an investigation of bird deaths at a neglected oil field site in northwestern Oklahoma.

Two oil-covered barn owls were found along with several other dead birds. The owls were taken in by a Fairview caretaker licensed to handle non-migratory birds, but both owls later died, the Enid News & Eagle and Associated Press report. Continue Reading

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