Oklahoma

Economy, Energy, Natural Resources: Policy to People

“Are Oklahoma Fish Safe To Eat?”

The Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality just added eight lakes to its fish consumption advisory, which now includes 40 lakes in total. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the fish aren’t safe to eat. Just try not to eat too much.


The Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) last week cautioned citizens against eating too much fish from some state lakes because they pose a higher risk for mercury poisoning. The agency issued a fish consumption advisory for eight Oklahoma lakes, making a total of 40 lakes now where DEQ says mercury levels are high enough that people should pay attention to how many fish they are consuming.

Read more at: newsok.com

Regulator Says Budget Cuts Could Imperil Vital Water-Monitoring Programs

Jet Stein with the OWRB's lake monitoring program prepares to test the water at Lake Hefner in Oklahoma City.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Jet Stein with the OWRB's lake monitoring program prepares to test the water at Lake Hefner in Oklahoma City.

Water contaminated by algae blooms or choked by sediment and pollutants kills wildlife and isn’t healthy for humans. It’s up to the state to make sure Oklahoma’s lakes and rivers are safe, but budget cuts are threatening that mission, officials say.


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Oil-Field Tax Break Authored by Senate President Benefits His Employer

Sen. Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa

Oklahoma Senate

Sen. Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa

An obscure sales tax break authored by Sen. Brian Bingman is “subsidizing an expensive form of enhanced oil recovery for seven companies, including the senator’s employer,” Oklahoma Watch reports.

The tax break on electricity used to power old “waterflood” recovery projects was authored in 2005 by now-Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa.

The first company to apply for and receive the exemption was Uplands Resources Inc. of Tulsa. At the time, Bingman was the company’s land manager. He currently works there as vice president of land and operations.

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“Are Oklahoma Buildings, Bridges on Shaky Ground When it Comes to Earthquakes?”

A team of volunteer experts never surveyed the buildings in Oklahoma most vulnerable to earthquakes because the legislature failed to pass legislation ensuring architects and engineers from liability for their findings, The Oklahoman’s Adam Kemp reports.


The lack of information about which critical public facilities might survive a large-scale earthquake comes at a time unprecedented seismic activity in the state and when some seismologists say the odds of a large-scale quake are growing.

And even more troubling, some experts say, is that some of the state’s most vulnerable public buildings might also be some of the most important in the wake of a disaster, including police and fire stations and city halls, many of which may have been built with unreinforced masonry that is vulnerable to collapse.

Read more at: newsok.com

“Federal Appeals Court: Clean Power Plan Can Proceed”

The Clean Power Plan still faces litigation from more than 20 states, including Oklahoma, but in the meantime it will be allowed to go into effect.


WASHINGTON — A federal appeals court refused Thursday to block Obama administration regulations aimed at reducing power plant pollution while a legal battle wages on. The ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit was a victory for environmentalists and a defeat for states challenging the Environmental Protection Agency regulations in court.

Read more at: www.usatoday.com

After Weeks of Resistance, Oklahoma Oil Company Agrees to Shut Down Wells Near Earthquakes

A SandRidge Energy well in northwestern Oklahoma.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

A SandRidge Energy well in northwestern Oklahoma.

SandRidge Energy has agreed to shutter some disposal wells in earthquake-prone northern Oklahoma in a settlement that avoids legal action by state oil and gas regulators.

Financially strapped SandRidge had defied directives from the Oklahoma Corporation Commission to voluntary shut down disposal wells in shaky areas near the towns of Byron, Cherokee and Medford. The commission had prepared a court filing to force SandRidge to comply with the directives, but in a settlement announced Wednesday, the company agreed to shut down three wells and convert four into monitoring wells for an earthquake-related research project spearheaded by the Oklahoma Geological Survey. Continue Reading

Budget Crisis Could Hinder State’s Ability to Manage Floods and Protect Streams

Children play in a small tributary of the Illinois River near Tahlequah, Okla., in May 2015.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Children play in a small tributary of the Illinois River near Tahlequah, Okla., in May 2015.

Oil and gas are endangering the Oklahoma’s streams, soil and wetlands. Not by polluting them, but because plummeting oil prices have blown a billion-dollar hole in the state’s budget. Funding cuts at agencies that manage Oklahoma’s natural resources could threaten the state’s beauty, as well as people’s lives and property, officials say.


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“More Quakes Rattle Oklahoma But State Avoids Tough Measures”

A recent story by the Associated Press compares how officials in Oklahoma and Kansas reacted to oil industry-linked quakes.


They chose different solutions. Kansas, following early scientific studies, decided to restrict how much and how fast the wastewater could be pumped back underground. Oklahoma instead initially concentrated on the depth of the wastewater injections. Developments since then haven’t been reassuring in Oklahoma, where a quake knocked out power in parts of an Oklahoma City suburb several weeks ago and where fears are growing that the worst is yet to come. On Friday, about 200 unhappy residents packed a forum at the state capitol convened by critics of the state’s response.

Read more at: bigstory.ap.org

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