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

‘Why The Oil and Gas Industry is Not Giving to Trump’

Donald Trump is the keynote speaker at the annual Shale Insight conference in Pittsburgh this week, but the energy industry isn’t opening its wallets to the Republican nominee. In a typical they election they would, reports StateImpact Pennsylvania’s Susan Phillips: “So what’s going on here?”

Why the oil and gas industry is not giving to Trump

Among the many oddities in this election, the 2016 Republican candidate for president has gotten peanuts from one of the GOP’s most reliable donor base.

Industry employees contacted by StateImpact did not want to speak on the record. But it could be that they just don’t know what they’ll get with a Trump White House.

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Heavy Fundraising on State Question 777 Suggests Right-to-Farm is High-Stakes Political Issue

Farmers Wayne and Fred Schmedt watch a combine harvest wheat on their fields near Altus, Okla.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Farmers Wayne and Fred Schmedt watch a combine harvest wheat on their fields near Altus, Okla.

Oklahoma voters will decide in November whether to change the state constitution with new language protecting the agriculture industry.

Informally known as the right-to-farm amendment, State Question 777 raises a lot of legal, environmental and economic questions. A StateImpact analysis of state campaign finance data shows the issue has attracted more direct donations than any other ballot question, suggesting right-to-farm is high-stakes Oklahoma politics.

 

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‘Quake Frequency Declines, Seismic Energy in Oklahoma Increases’

Though the rate of earthquakes “has declined from its peak,” the 5.8-magnitude earthquake near Pawnee has made 2016 the most seismically active year on record “as measured by seismic energy release,” Oklahoma Geological Survey Director Jeremy Boak tells the Enid News‘ Sally Asher.

Studying seismicity: Quake frequency declines, seismic energy in Oklahoma increases

ENID, Okla. – As “Earthquake!” became a household term in Oklahoma, the temblors normally associated with California or Japan produced more questions than answers. Scientists across Oklahoma are working to learn more about why the Sooner State is moving and shaking.

 

State Regulators Expand Limits on Disposal Wells Near Labor Day Weekend Quake

Oklahoma Regulators Expand Limits On Disposal Operations Near Labor Day Earthquake

Federal and state regulators on Monday expanded and modified emergency orders limiting oil and gas activity at wells near a fault line that produced Oklahoma’s strongest earthquake on record. Regulators are targeting 67 disposal wells in two counties near the damaging 5.8-magnitude earthquake that rocked the state over the Labor Day weekend.

 

Oklahoma Sets a New Earthquake Record as Aftershocks Jolt Residents, Researchers and Regulators

Mona Denney surveys earthquake damage inside her home near Pawnee, Okla.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Mona Denney surveys earthquake damage inside her home near Pawnee, Okla.

The U.S. Geological Survey is upgrading the strength of an earthquake that shook the state on Sept. 3 to 5.8 magnitude. That change makes the Labor Day weekend temblor the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in Oklahoma. The quake is the latest in a seismic surge researchers say has largely been fueled by the oil industry practice of pumping waste fluid into underground disposal wells.

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Bethany Sues Aerospace Firms, Claiming Contamination Poses Public Water ‘Emergency’


The City of Bethany is suing a pair of aerospace companies after a “plume” of hazardous chemicals migrating from an airport manufacturing plant contaminated public water supplies and forced the city to shut down a pair of municipal water wells. Continue Reading

Group Says Wind Credits Could Cost Billions, Industry Says Analysis Is Inaccurate

A NextEra Renewable Energy Resources wind farm site near Elk City, Okla.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

A wind farm near Elk City, Okla.

An organization opposed to wind power incentives says payouts could total $5.2 billion by 2030 if Oklahoma’s zero-emissions tax credit continues, “an amount the wind industry said is highly inflated,” The Oklahoman’s Paul Monies reports:

WindWaste, a group founded by Claremore businessman Frank Robson, said its latest estimates of future wind farm developments in Oklahoma show the state’s annual outlay of rebates from the incentive could balloon to more than $500 million annually as early as 2019.

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Environmental Authorities Order Fixes After Diesel Spill in Ada

After this quarry near a U.S. Silica sand mining operation was mined out, clear blue aquifer water filled it in.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

A quarry near Ada filled with water from the Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer.

The Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality has ordered city officials in Ada to make a series of fixes to ensure the community has clean drinking water after 2,000 gallons of diesel spilled on the ground near city water wells in April of 2015.

DEQ’s orders include stricter sampling, testing and monitoring of wells, the construction of barriers to guard against spills and requiring the city to find an alternative source of drinking water if the wells aren’t usable, the Ada NewsEric Swanson reports: Continue Reading

The Oklahoma Oil Billionaire Shaping Donald Trump’s Bid to Win on Energy Issues

Donald Trump at a campaign stop at the Oklahoma State Fair in September 2015.

Brian Hardzinski / KGOU

Donald Trump at a campaign stop at the Oklahoma State Fair in September 2015.

Donald Trump is wooing energy-state voters by promising a presidency that will champion coal, promote drilling and free frackers from federal regulations limiting oil and gas development.

If the Republican candidate’s energy platform sounds like it was written specifically for fossil fuel companies, that’s because an Oklahoma oil billionaire helped craft it.

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With Water Settlement Inked, Tribes Now Selling The Details Back Home

Members of the Choctaw Nation gather at the Hugo Community Center to hear details on the new water deal from attorney Michael Burrage.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Members of the Choctaw Nation gather at the Hugo Community Center to hear details on the new water deal from attorney Michael Burrage.

After five years of confidential negotiations, the Chickasaw and Choctaw Nations have reached an agreement with the State of Oklahoma over water in southeast Oklahoma. The deal has been praised by state leaders as a historic accord that ends the tribes’ lawsuit that blocked Oklahoma City’s plan to pump water out of the region. But the deal still has to be sold to tribe members in that part of the state.

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