Southwest Oklahoma Cities Wrestle With How To Ration Water Amid Plenty

Craig Nance, owner of Nance Landscaping in Altus, Okla. says he hasn't done a landscaping job in Altus in three or four years because of the drought.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Craig Nance, owner of Nance Landscaping in Altus, Okla. says he hasn't done a landscaping job in Altus in three or four years because of the drought.

May 2015 already ranks as one of the wettest in state history, and continues to snuff out the four-year drought that dried up cities in southwest Oklahoma. Water rationing helped keep Duncan, Lawton and Altus afloat, but those cities are now scaling back their water-saving mandates.

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Oil Executive Says He Didn’t Try to Get Earthquake Scientists Fired

Harold Hamm in April 2012 at TIME Magazine's 100 Most Influential People In the World gala in New York City

Jemal Countess / Getty Images for TIME

Harold Hamm in April 2012 at TIME Magazine's 100 Most Influential People In the World gala in New York City

Harold Hamm, the billionaire founder and CEO of Continental Resources, denies a report that told a University of Oklahoma dean he wanted scientists dismissed who were researching links between oil and gas production and Oklahoma’s exponential increase in earthquakes.

In emails obtained by Bloomberg’s Benjamin Elgin, Larry Grillot, then the dean of OU’s Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy, wrote to colleagues after a meeting with the oil executive: “Mr. Hamm is very upset at some of the earthquake reporting to the point that he would like to see select OGS staff dismissed,” Grillot wrote, referring to the Oklahoma Geological Survey, a state agency operated through the university.

Hamm and Continental declined comment to Bloomberg, but the oilman disputed the report in a story by different reporter, Adam Wilmoth of The Oklahoman:

“All that was false. It’s incorrect,” Hamm said. “Nobody asked for anybody to be removed. Nobody has been let go. Nobody was asked to be let go.”

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“Oklahoma Property Tax Exemption Program Benefits Power Plants, Wind Farms”

Senate Bill 498, which ends a five-year property exemption for new wind farms on Jan. 1, 2017, is headed to Gov. Mary Fallin’s desk, The Oklahoman reports.


Lawmakers dropped electric power plants from the ad valorem tax exemption program in 2009. But with the rapid expansion of wind farms for electricity generation in the past few years, elected officials are again taking a closer look at the property tax incentive. Wind developers claimed $32 million in property tax exemptions in 2013, according to the Oklahoma Tax Commission. That was about half of the $64 million total, which also includes exemptions claimed by manufacturing plants, data centers and distribution facilities.

Read more at: newsok.com

Oil Executive Told University Dean He Wanted Earthquake Scientists Fired

Harold Hamm, CEO of Oklahoma's Continental Resources, is chairman of Mitt Romney's campaign energy advisory committee.

Provided / Continental Resources

Harold Hamm, CEO of Oklahoma's Continental Resources, is chairman of Mitt Romney's campaign energy advisory committee.

Harold Hamm, the billionaire founder and CEO of Continental Resources told a University of Oklahoma dean he wanted scientists dismissed who were researching links between oil and gas activity and Oklahoma’s earthquake surge, Bloomberg’s Benjamin Elgin reports.

“Mr. Hamm is very upset at some of the earthquake reporting to the point that he would like to see select OGS staff dismissed,” wrote Larry Grillot, the dean of the university’s Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy, in a July 16, 2014, e-mail to colleagues at the university.

The emails, obtained through Oklahoma’s Open Records Act, refer to a 90-minute meeting held in July 2014 about scientists at the Oklahoma Geological Survey, a state agency that is hosted by the University of Oklahoma, Bloomberg reports: Continue Reading

Rains Help Quench Oklahoma’s Drought, But Officials Warn Dry Days Could Return

Boats meet in the middle of Tom Steed lake in southwestern Oklahoma in May 2014. Under normal lake conditions, the rocks in the foreground would be submerged.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Boats meet in the middle of Tom Steed lake in southwestern Oklahoma in May 2014. Under normal lake conditions, the rocks in the foreground would be submerged.

A soggy April and a slow-moving storm system that dumped record rainfall has drenched Oklahoma’s drought. The rain is welcome, but officials and experts warn the relief could be fleeting.

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“Oklahoma Coalition Wants Well Moratorium in Earthquake Areas”

“A coalition of environmental and grassroots organizations is calling for a moratorium on the use of wastewater disposal wells by the oil and natural gas industry in areas where they may trigger earthquakes,” the Associated Press reports.


Members of the coalition traveled to the state Capitol Monday to deliver 1,500 signed petitions to Gov. Mary Fallin’s office seeking a moratorium on the use of high-volume, high pressure disposals wells in 16 Oklahoma counties. Angela Spotts of Stillwater says frequent earthquakes in Payne County are damaging homes in the area and taking an emotional and financial toll on residents.

Read more at: www.koco.com

Waurika Lake Gets New Life as Desperately Needed Rain Finally Falls

As is evidenced by this photo from January, Waurika Lake was dangerously low before the recent rains.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

As is evidenced by this photo from January, Waurika Lake was dangerously low before the recent rains.

Before the consistent, heavy rains over the past week, Waurika Lake — the main source of water for Lawton and Duncan — was on the very brink of drying up too much to be used. Years of punishing drought led to the crisis, but what a difference a few days can make. Continue Reading

Oil Executive Says Meeting With State Earthquake Scientist Was About Information, Not Intimidation

Harold Hamm in April 2012 at TIME Magazine's 100 Most Influential People In the World gala in New York City

Jemal Countess / Getty Images for TIME

Harold Hamm in April 2012 at TIME Magazine's 100 Most Influential People In the World gala in New York City

Harold Hamm, the founder, chairman and CEO of Continental Resources, says he requested a meeting with a state seismologist to get information, not to “bully” a scientist tasked with studying an earthquake surge that has been linked to oil and gas activity.

EnergyWire’s Mike Soraghan reports:

In his first in-depth interview about his dealings with state officials on the issue of man-made earthquakes, the billionaire oilman said he knows that wastewater disposal can set the ground rumbling but said the practice of fracturing shouldn’t be associated with quakes.

Scientists say hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” can trigger earthquakes, but researchers suggest another oil and gas activity, the injection of waste fluid into disposal wells, is more likely behind the surge of earthquakes recorded in Oklahoma and other states. Continue Reading

A Snapshot of the Oil Industry’s Response to State’s Earthquake-Related Well Orders

A Devon Energy disposal well near Stillwater, Okla.

A Devon Energy disposal well near Stillwater, Okla.

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission in March ordered the operators of nearly 350 disposal wells to prove their operations weren’t allowing waste fluid to be pumped into a rock formation known to produce earthquakes.

The Corporation Commission has not provided comprehensive records or data related to the operators’ responses to the March directives despite multiple requests by StateImpact. Today, the commission issued a statement that provides a snapshot of the industry’s response to the directives:

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