Oklahoma

Economy, Energy, Natural Resources: Policy to People

New Severance Tax on Limestone Miners Passes Oklahoma House

An active aggregate mining operation near Mill Creek, Okla.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

An active aggregate mining operation near Mill Creek, Okla.

South-central Oklahoma — where the sensitive Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer provides water for thousands of Oklahomans — is home to some of the highest quality limestone in the country, and the ground holds vast supplies of the silica sand used by the oil and gas industry in the hydraulic fracturing process.

For years, south-central Oklahoma lawmakers have been pushing for a severance tax on the limestone and sand mined out of the aquifer, which many residents say is damaging the Arbuckle-Simpson and threatening the future of communities in the area. On Tuesday, a severance tax bill passed the state House by a vote of 60-35. Continue Reading

Lawton Turns to Weather Manipulation to Aid Drought-Stricken City Water Supplies

A Lockheed WC-130B used by U.S. government researchers Stormfury, a cloud seeding research project focused on reducing the strength of hurricanes.

NOAA

A Lockheed WC-130B used by U.S. government researchers Stormfury, a cloud seeding research project focused on reducing the strength of hurricanes.

Five years of drought has strangled lakes and reservoirs in southwestern Oklahoma.

The city of Lawton is considering extraordinary means to help fill water supplies. City leaders hope a man with an airplane can manipulate the weather and bring more rain.

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Hearing Begins Over OG&E’s Controversial Plan To Comply With Clean Air Act

Oklahoma Gas & Electric's coal-fired Sooner Plant in Red Rock, Okla.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma Gas & Electric's coal-fired Sooner Plant in Red Rock, Okla.

Oklahoma Gas and Electric — the state’s largest utility — and Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt fought the EPA’s new Clean Air Act regulations for years before being left with no choice but to comply.

Now, after being beaten back in court, OG&E is asking the state Corporation Commission for permission to increase customer electricity rates so it has the money it says is needed to convert coal-fired units at its Muskogee Plant to natural gas, and install air scrubbers at its Sooner Plant. Continue Reading

Oklahoma House Unanimously Approves Bill Reducing Wind Industry Subsidies

The Oklahoma House of Representatives on Monday voted 89-0 to approve proposed legislation that would significantly reduce the amount of tax incentives paid to the wind industry.

House Bill 1554 was authored by Rep. Earl Sears, R-Bartlesville, who has pledged to curtail tax credits and incentives whose cost has ballooned along with Oklahoma’s booming wind industry.

From the Associated Press:

Sears said the bill in its current form would reduce by about 70 percent the amount of tax credits wind producers receive, although he acknowledged discussions with the industry are ongoing on the final amount. The credits are paid based on the amount of electricity produced by the facilities.

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“Drought Grants Approved For Three Rural Oklahoma Communities”

Oklahoma’s 2012 Water for 2060 Act set a goal of not using more water in 2060 than the state used in 2012. To that end, grants are available to communities that want to implement drought mitigation or conservation measures that save water.

The Boise City Public Works Authority will receive $135,000 to save about 1.1 million gallons per year. The Fort Supply Public Works Authority will receive $397,700 that will save about 3.7 million gallons of water per year. The town of Shattuck will receive a $500,000 grant to save about 12.3 million gallons per year.

Read more at: www.newschannel10.com

Why State and Federal Agencies Record Different Oklahoma Earthquake Numbers

seismograph

matthileo / Flickr

Earthquake magnitude estimations often vary wildly between the Oklahoma Geological Survey and the U.S. Geological Survey.

The OGS usually reports smaller earthquakes than its federal counterpart. Since 2010, the OGS reported smaller numbers than the USGS “more than half of the time for earthquakes of magnitude 3.8 and higher,” the Tulsa World’s Ziva Branstetter and Curtis Killman report.

Here’s why:

There are two basic ways to calculate earthquake magnitude. The local magnitude, also known as the Richter scale, is accurate for smaller quakes, while moment magnitude is generally used for larger quakes but is more difficult to compute, according to the USGS.

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“Growing Wind Industry in Oklahoma Needs Greater Transparency, Community Involvement, Panel Says”

A panel discussion at the University of Tulsa’s College of Law urged “greater transparency, collaboration and community involvement if the state is to realize its potential as one of the nation’s biggest wind producers,” Paul Monies reports.


As wind farm development has moved from the rural, western part of the state to areas closer to population centers, concerns are arising over siting, noise and the effects on views for neighboring landowners. That’s tended to divide people into pro-wind and anti-wind camps, said Jason Aamodt, assistant dean of online legal education at TU’s law school. “We need to move beyond the rhetoric to real decision-making,” Aamodt said. “It gets into sustainable development, with the triple bottom line of economic development, environmental conservation and social development.”

Read more at: newsok.com

House Committee Advances Bill Placing Location Restrictions on New Wind Farms

Tammy and Rick Huffstutlar have spoken out against wind farm development near their home in Calument, Okla.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Tammy and Rick Huffstutlar have spoken out against wind farm development near their home in Calument, Okla.

A bill adding new regulations and oversight of Oklahoma’s booming wind industry passed a House committee on Tuesday.

House Bill 1549, one of several bills filed in the 2015 Legislature that target the wind industry, places limits on where companies can build new wind farms. The proposed measure would prevent new wind farms from being built near schools, hospitals or airports.

The bill was written by Rep. Earl Sears, R-Bartlesville. He says landowners and the wind industry were consulted when crafting the legislation. Continue Reading

Oklahoma Right-to-Farm Legislation About More Than Agricultural Practices

Attendees listen as former Missouri state senator Wes Shoemeyer speaks against Amendment 1 at the Missouri’s Food for America sign-making event at Café Berlin Friday, June 27, 2014 in Columbia, Missouri.

KOMUnews / flickr

Attendees listen as former Missouri state senator Wes Shoemeyer speaks against Amendment 1 at the Missouri’s Food for America sign-making event at Café Berlin Friday, June 27, 2014 in Columbia, Missouri.

Oklahoma voters have at least a year before seeing ads for and against state questions on the ballot in November 2016. But you might want to get used to hearing this phrase now: right-to-farm.

It’s a divisive national issue that’s made its way to the Sooner State, one that puts agriculture at odds with environmentalists and animal rights advocates.

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