Oklahoma

Environment, Education, Energy: Policy to People

Joe Wertz

Joe Wertz is multi-platform reporter for StateImpact Oklahoma. He has previously served as Managing Editor of Urban Tulsa Weekly, as the Arts & Entertainment Editor at Oklahoma Gazette and worked as a Staff Writer for The Oklahoman. Joe was a weekly correspondent for KGOU from 2007-2010. He grew up in Bartlesville, Okla., lives in Oklahoma City, and studied journalism at the University of Central Oklahoma.

  • Email: joe@stateimpactoklahoma.org

AG Sued For More Records After Releasing Suppressed Audit That Found Evidence of Conspiracy At Tar Creek

A worker brushes dusty mine waste off a truck before it exits a field at the Tar Creek Superfund in northeastern Oklahoma.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

A worker brushes dusty mine waste off a truck before it exits a field at the Tar Creek Superfund in northeastern Oklahoma.

Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter on Monday released an audit and other documents related to a corruption probe his office fought to keep secret.

The records stem from an investigation launched in 2011 of the Lead-Impacted Communities Relocation Assistance Trust, which was set up to buy contaminated properties and relocate residents near the Tar Creek Superfund site, a former lead and zinc mine in northeastern Oklahoma.

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Oklahoma Energy Industry Rallies Against Tax Increase Proposal

Dean Champion, an oil-field worker who does flowback work and well testing for Select Energy, mans a smoker at a March 2018 rally at the Oklahoma Capitol organized to push lawmakers to vote down proposed tax increases on oil and gas production.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Dean Champion, an oil-field worker who does flowback work and well testing for Select Energy, mans a smoker at a March 2018 rally at the Oklahoma Capitol organized to push lawmakers to vote down proposed tax increases on oil and gas production.

The Oklahoma Senate is now considering a package of bills to increase tax revenue to give raises to teachers and public employees. Among the targeted increases are taxes on oil and gas. On Tuesday, the energy industry showed up to the capitol to rally against the proposal.

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Wind Companies Reconsider Oklahoma As Lawmakers Roll Up Economic Welcome Mat

A line of wind turbines near Seiling, Okla.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

A line of wind turbines near Seiling, Okla.

The Dewey County Courthouse is one of the newest in Oklahoma. The offices are spacious, and the courtroom has fresh carpet and shiny wood trim. County Commissioner M.W. “Junior” Salisbury is excited to play tour leader.

“I’m pretty proud of our little courthouse here,” he says. “I really, really am.”

Officials figured they would need 25 years to pay it off, but it took less than five. One major reason: wind farms.

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State Regulators Expand Guidelines To Address Uptick In Fracking-Linked Earthquakes

Updated guidelines from the Corporation Commission affect energy companies fracking wells in western Oklahoma oil fields.

Oklahoma Corporation Commission

Updated guidelines from the Corporation Commission affect companies fracking wells in western Oklahoma oil fields.

Oklahoma oil and gas regulators are expanding rules designed to reduce earthquake activity triggered by fracking. Updated guidelines released Tuesday by the Oklahoma Corporation put new requirements on companies operating in two of the state’s most booming oil fields.

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Environmental Groups Fight State’s Effort To Regulate Coal Ash On Its Own

Environmental groups, activists and residents urged the EPA not to approve the state's plan to regulate coal ash at a public hearing in February 2018.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Environmental groups, activists and residents urged the EPA not to approve the state's plan to regulate coal ash at a public hearing in February 2018.

Environmental groups and concerned residents this week told federal officials the Oklahoma agency charged with protecting air, land and water lacked the resources and rules to manage a state-run plan to regulate coal ash.

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New Research: Limiting Volume And Depth Of Disposal Wells Key In Reducing Oklahoma Earthquakes

A tanker truck at an oil and gas production site in southeastern Oklahoma.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

A tanker truck at an oil and gas production site in southeastern Oklahoma.

Oklahoma experienced a dramatic drop in earthquakes in 2017 — a decline likely due, in part, to regulations limiting activity at oil-field disposal wells, scientists and experts say. New research suggests those regulations might be reducing some quakes more than others.

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Authorities Investigating Oklahoma Rig Explosion, Deadliest U.S. Drilling Accident In Years

Inspectors and emergency crews surveying damage at Patterson-UTI's rig 219, which exploded and caught fire Jan. 22.

Oklahoma Corporation Commission

Inspectors and emergency crews surveying damage at Patterson-UTI's rig 219, which exploded and caught fire Jan. 22.

Federal and state authorities are investigating the cause of the deadly explosion and fire at a natural gas drilling rig in southeastern Oklahoma on Monday.  Five workers died in what appears to be one of the country’s deadliest onshore drilling accidents. Continue Reading

Industry Group Challenges Proposed Ballot Question To Raise Oil And Gas Taxes

The state's largest industry group has mounted a two-pronged legal challenge to the proposed SQ 795.

The state's largest industry group has mounted a two-pronged legal challenge to the proposed SQ 795.

The Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association on Wednesday filed two separate state Supreme Court challenges to a proposed state question that would ask voters to end industry discounts and impose a broad 7 percent tax on oil and gas production to fund teacher pay raises and early childhood education.

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