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

E&E News: ‘Bar Complaint Filed Against Pruitt Over Emails’

The Center for Biological Diversity and University of Oklahoma law professor Kristen van de Biezenbos filed a grievance with the Oklahoma Bar Association over U.S. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s confirmation hearing testimony regarding his use of personal email when he served as Oklahoma’s attorney general, E&E News reports:

EPA: Bar complaint filed against Pruitt over emails

They argue Pruitt violated professional conduct rules by saying at the hearing that he only used his work email for official business as the state’s attorney general. Subsequently, emails released under open records litigation show that Pruitt had used personal email for work purposes. Continue Reading

As State Budgets Falter, Oklahoma Turns to Other States to Fight Its Most Dangerous Wildfires

Guthrie Fire Chief Eric Harlow.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Guthrie Fire Chief Eric Harlow.

Crews have worked for more than a week to contain a massive wildfire that has torched more than a thousand square miles and killed one person and thousands of head of livestock in northwestern parts of Oklahoma. State budget cuts mean Oklahoma increasingly depends on other states to fight its largest and most dangerous wildfires.

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Oklahoma Bill To Protect ‘Critical Infrastructure’ Could Curb Public Protest, Critics Say

A field medic raises her fist as protestors stand near a fire blocking a road along the Dakota Access Pipeline Route near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota.

Avery White / Oceti Sakowin Camp/CC BY-NC 2.0

A field medic raises her fist as protestors stand near a fire blocking a road along the Dakota Access Pipeline Route near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota.

Oklahoma legislators are advancing a bill that outlaws trespassing on sites containing “critical infrastructure.” Supporters say the measure will help prevent damage and disruption of energy markets, electric grids and water services, but environmental activists and civil rights groups say the bill’s real purpose is to block political protests of pipelines and similar projects.

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State Supreme Court Gives Attorney General’s Office More Time to Turn Over Pruitt Emails

The Oklahoma Supreme Court has granted a request by the Attorney General’s office to delay a lower court’s order requiring the agency to turn over records sought by a watchdog group.

The Center for Media and Democracy sued the agency in February to force it to handover emails sent during the tenure of former attorney general Scott Pruitt, now administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Continue Reading

‘Polls, State Chamber Frown on Oklahoma Wind Tax Proposal’

Nearly 3/4 of Oklahoma voters oppose a half-cent tax on wind-generated electricity proposed by Gov. Mary Fallin, The Oklahoman’s Paul Monies reports a poll sponsored by a wind advocacy group shows. “The State Chamber also is voicing opposition to the plan.”

Polls, State Chamber frown on Oklahoma wind tax proposal

American Wind Action commissioned polls in January and earlier this month to see how Oklahomans viewed both wind energy and a proposed wind tax, which was unveiled earlier this month by Fallin in her executive budget as one measure to plug the state’s estimated $878 million shortfall. Continue Reading

Emails Show EPA Boss Pruitt Worked In Concert With Industry He Now Regulates


Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Scott Pruitt shakes hands at the Oklahoma Capitol.

Emails made public Wednesday show newly confirmed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt coordinated with the fossil fuel industry and political groups to fight federal environmental regulations when he served as Oklahoma’s attorney general. Continue Reading

Pruitt Suggests New Direction for EPA in Address to Employees

Scott Pruitt addressed EPA's 15,000 employees in a short speech on Feb. 21, 2017.


Scott Pruitt addressed EPA's 15,000 employees in a short speech on Feb. 21, 2017.

Former Oklahoma Attorney General and new Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt addressed employees of the federal agency for the first time today.

Speaking at EPA headquarters in Washington, D.C., Pruitt told the agency’s 15,000 workers — some of which strongly opposed his nomination — he would listen to their ideas and encourage civil debate on key environmental issues. He indicated a narrow interpretation of the agency’s authority, saying the EPA’s oversight had to be “tethered” to statute.

Pruitt said he’d rebuild the EPA’s partnership with state regulators and he pledged to ensure the environmental rule-making process is open, transparent and objective. But, he said, federal regulators have an obligation to make sure those rules provide certainty for industry. Continue Reading

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