Many of the programs protecting Oklahoma’s air and land are paid for with fees and federal dollars. Oversight and inspection of local water systems, however, are funded by state revenue that has dwindled — and failed.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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
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.
A recent story by the Associated Press compares how officials in Oklahoma and Kansas reacted to oil industry-linked quakes.