Oklahoma

Economy, Energy, Natural Resources: 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

Landmark Earthquake Lawsuit Settled, Former State Scientist Testifies About Industry Pressure In Another

A disposal well in northwest Oklahoma.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

A disposal well in northwest Oklahoma.

The first lawsuit filed against Oklahoma oil companies over earthquakes is now settled.

Sandra Ladra was injured by rocks that shook loose from her fireplace during the 5.7-magnitude temblor that struck near the city of Prague in 2011. The quake is one of the strongest ever recorded in Oklahoma and was the first one scientists linked to wastewater disposal wells used by the oil and gas industry. Continue Reading

A River of Uncertainty Lingers As State Approves OKC’s Permit For Southeastern Oklahoma Water

Jerry Gutierrez steers his golf cart on a tour of his ranch near the Kiamichi River in southeastern Oklahoma. Gutierrez and other nearby residents urged the state not to approve Oklahoma City's permit to tap water from river.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Jerry Gutierrez steers his golf cart on a tour of his ranch near the Kiamichi River in southeastern Oklahoma. Gutierrez and other nearby residents urged the state not to approve Oklahoma City's permit to tap water from river.

Oklahoma City’s decades-long quest for a permit to pump water out of southeastern Oklahoma is over. This week, state regulators approved a key part of the city’s $1 billion-plus project to meet the metro’s long-term water needs, but residents and water rights groups say the urban victory marks a milestone — not the end of the road.

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Guarded Hope At Oklahoma’s Abandoned Mine As EPA Promises Focus On Contaminated Sites

Rebecca Jim, executive director of the L.E.A.D Agency, at the nonprofit's headquarters in Miami, Okla.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Rebecca Jim, executive director of the L.E.A.D Agency, at the nonprofit's headquarters in Miami, Okla.

Newly minted U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt spent his first months on the job steering the agency away from climate change to focus, in part, on cleaning up contaminated sites around the country.

The former Oklahoma attorney general has directed a task force to create a top-10 list of locations that need aggressive attention — welcome news at Superfund sites like Tar Creek in the northeastern corner of the state.

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Oklahoma Latest Front As Military and Wind Developers Fight For Open Sky

Trainees in the control tower at Altus Air Force Base watch as a C-17 cargo plane taxis to the runway.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Senior Airman Yazmine Nanasca watches as a C-17 cargo plane taxis to the runway from her perch in the control tower at Altus Air Force Base.

Developers recently announced plans to build the country’s largest wind farm in Oklahoma’s Panhandle. The industry is growing and turbine projects are expanding across the state. But wind energy developers are facing a new headwind: military air bases.

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New Research Questions Forecasted Earthquake Slowdown

A team from U.C. Santa Cruz and the Oklahoma Geological Survey cast doubt on a predicted decline in Oklahoma earthquakes in a paper published in Science Advances.

Science Advances

A team from U.C. Santa Cruz and the Oklahoma Geological Survey cast doubt on a predicted decline in Oklahoma earthquakes in a paper published in Science Advances.

A new research paper suggests Oklahoma’s earthquake hazard might not taper off as quickly or as significantly as scientists previously predicted.

The energy industry practice of pumping toxic waste-fluid byproducts of oil and gas production into underground disposal wells is thought to be fueling Oklahoma’s earthquake surge. This activity peaked in 2015 and slowed due to regulations and low oil prices.

A November 2016 study by Stanford University geophysicists predicted fewer earthquakes and less-damaging shaking would soon follow, but newly published research is less optimistic.  Continue Reading

Oklahoma And Other States Planning to Enjoy Solar Eclipse From The ‘Cheap Seats’

A partial solar eclipse captured over Lake Hefner in Oklahoma City in 2014.

Bill Davis / Flickr/CC BY-NC 2.0

A partial solar eclipse captured over Lake Hefner in Oklahoma City in 2014.

A temporary mass migration that could reach into the millions is expected as people across the United States relocate to catch a prime view of the country’s first coast-to-coast total eclipse in nearly a century.

The vast majority of the country, including Oklahoma, isn’t in the path of “totality.”

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Alternative to Earthquake-Linked Wastewater Disposal Stirs up Opportunity for Oklahoma’s Oil Industry

Electricians complete last-minute work at Newfield's Barton Water Recycling Facility near Calumet, Okla.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Electricians complete last-minute work at Newfield's Barton Water Recycling Facility near Calumet, Okla.

A key part in solving the state’s earthquake crisis is the long-term management of an enormous amount of oil-field wastewater likely triggering the shaking. The energy industry is working to solve this billion-barrel-a-year problem, and one promising alternative to risky disposal wells is reusing wastewater instead of pumping it underground.

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EPA Moves to Add Midwest City Site to National List of Most Urgent Hazardous Cleanups

Eagle Industries in Midwest City has a for-lease sign in front of the office. Officials say site hasn't been active since 2010.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Eagle Industries in Midwest City has a for-lease sign in front of the office. Officials say site hasn't been active since 2010.

The U.S. Environmental Protection agency is moving to add an Oklahoma facility that inspected and repaired aircraft oxygen and fire extinguisher systems to the nation’s list of most polluted hazardous waste sites.

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