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

Legislature Approves ‘Critical Infrastructure’ Bill Critics Say Could Curb Public Protest

A bill that adds steep criminal penalties for trespassing on sites containing “critical infrastructure” cleared its final legislative hurdle Wednesday and now awaits Gov. Mary Fallin’s signature.

For more on House Bill 1123, here’s our story from March 2017.

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

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. Continue Reading

‘Mad Scientists’ at Oklahoma March Urge Lawmakers to Stop Underfunding and Undermining Research

Oklahomans joined thousands of people in more than 600 cities on Saturday in a march for scientific freedom organized to send a message to state and national lawmakers. Continue Reading

Energy Industry Divided as Public Calls to Increase Oil and Gas Taxes Grow Louder

Lights from a drilling rig near Watonga, Okla.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Lights from a drilling rig near Watonga, Okla.

The 2017 legislative session is beyond the halfway point and the clock is ticking on lawmakers who have until the end of May to set the state’s budget and plug an $870 million funding hole. Legislators say every option is on the table, including one with growing public support: Increasing taxes on oil and gas.

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‘Oklahoma Governor to Decide Fate of Wind Energy Tax Credits’

A bill that brings an early end to the last major tax incentive for the wind industry has cleared its last legislative hurdle and now awaits Gov. Mary Fallin’s signature.

Oklahoma governor to decide fate of wind energy tax credits

Leadership in both chambers have praised the bill, citing it as one way the state can reclaim revenue in future budget years. Oklahoma law allows owners of wind turbines that begin operation before 2021 to claim a credit on the income earned from energy production. HB 2298 would end the credit July 1 … Continue Reading

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

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