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

Oil-Field Tax Break Authored by Senate President Benefits His Employer

Sen. Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa

Oklahoma Senate

Sen. Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa

An obscure sales tax break authored by Sen. Brian Bingman is “subsidizing an expensive form of enhanced oil recovery for seven companies, including the senator’s employer,” Oklahoma Watch reports.

The tax break on electricity used to power old “waterflood” recovery projects was authored in 2005 by now-Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa.

The first company to apply for and receive the exemption was Uplands Resources Inc. of Tulsa. At the time, Bingman was the company’s land manager. He currently works there as vice president of land and operations.

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“Are Oklahoma Buildings, Bridges on Shaky Ground When it Comes to Earthquakes?”

A team of volunteer experts never surveyed the buildings in Oklahoma most vulnerable to earthquakes because the legislature failed to pass legislation ensuring architects and engineers from liability for their findings, The Oklahoman’s Adam Kemp reports.


The lack of information about which critical public facilities might survive a large-scale earthquake comes at a time unprecedented seismic activity in the state and when some seismologists say the odds of a large-scale quake are growing.

And even more troubling, some experts say, is that some of the state’s most vulnerable public buildings might also be some of the most important in the wake of a disaster, including police and fire stations and city halls, many of which may have been built with unreinforced masonry that is vulnerable to collapse.

Read more at: newsok.com

After Weeks of Resistance, Oklahoma Oil Company Agrees to Shut Down Wells Near Earthquakes

A SandRidge Energy well in northwestern Oklahoma.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

A SandRidge Energy well in northwestern Oklahoma.

SandRidge Energy has agreed to shutter some disposal wells in earthquake-prone northern Oklahoma in a settlement that avoids legal action by state oil and gas regulators.

Financially strapped SandRidge had defied directives from the Oklahoma Corporation Commission to voluntary shut down disposal wells in shaky areas near the towns of Byron, Cherokee and Medford. The commission had prepared a court filing to force SandRidge to comply with the directives, but in a settlement announced Wednesday, the company agreed to shut down three wells and convert four into monitoring wells for an earthquake-related research project spearheaded by the Oklahoma Geological Survey. Continue Reading

“More Quakes Rattle Oklahoma But State Avoids Tough Measures”

A recent story by the Associated Press compares how officials in Oklahoma and Kansas reacted to oil industry-linked quakes.


They chose different solutions. Kansas, following early scientific studies, decided to restrict how much and how fast the wastewater could be pumped back underground. Oklahoma instead initially concentrated on the depth of the wastewater injections. Developments since then haven’t been reassuring in Oklahoma, where a quake knocked out power in parts of an Oklahoma City suburb several weeks ago and where fears are growing that the worst is yet to come. On Friday, about 200 unhappy residents packed a forum at the state capitol convened by critics of the state’s response.

Read more at: bigstory.ap.org

Edmond Residents Latest to Sue Oil and Gas Companies Over Earthquake

A Devon Energy disposal well near Stillwater, Okla.

A Devon Energy disposal well near Stillwater, Okla.

Fourteen Edmond residents filed a lawsuit Monday against a dozen oil and gas companies, “claiming their saltwater disposal wells were in part to blame for earthquakes that hit central Oklahoma in recent weeks,” The Oklahoman‘s Paul Monies reports.

The lawsuit, filed in Oklahoma County District Court, said the companies acted negligently and their use of disposal wells constituted an “ultrahazardous activity.” The nine homeowners said disposal wells operated by the companies “caused or contributed” to earthquakes.

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Oilfield Truck Crashes in Oklahoma Kill and Injure Dozens in Recent Years

An oil-field truck pulls into a well in north-central Oklahoma.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

An oil-field truck pulls into a well in north-central Oklahoma.

Thirty-six people in Oklahoma have died in crashes “involving trucks hauling oilfield wastewater and equipment” over the last eight years, The Frontier and News9 report.

Data show that 7 percent of all truck companies licensed for oil-field work in Oklahoma have been involved in fatal accidents, including crashes blamed on “bad brakes, trucks thousands of pounds overweight, failure to test drivers for drugs,” the news organizations report: Continue Reading

From Revenue Failure to Right-To-Farm: StateImpact Oklahoma Covers 2016

In January 2015, drought stricken Waurika Lake was dangerously low.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

In January 2015, drought stricken Waurika Lake was dangerously low.

There’s a $1 billion hole in the state budget that has consequences for Oklahoma’s environment and natural resources. A controversial state question could pit farmer against farmer. The ground beneath Oklahoma is shaking — figuratively and literally in 2016 — and StateImpact is on it.


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