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

“OERB Chips Away at Oklahoma’s Abandoned Well Site Remediation, Commission Hears”

The Oklahoma Energy Resources Board has directed $100 million in voluntary assessments to clean up more than 15,000 abandoned oil and gas wells, but another 20,000 to 40,000 remain, The Oklahoman’s Paul Monies reports.

Each year, OERB restores about 750 sites, Sowers said. Some cleanups — breaking up and burying old concrete pads, for example — require just a few days, while others might take a couple of years if there has been extensive produced saltwater spillage in the past. On average, two or three sites are completed each day, he said.

Cleanup projects are competitively bid, although the OERB is exempt from state bidding rules. Sowers said well plugging remains the responsibility of the Corporation Commission, which has a dedicated well-plugging fund.

Read more at: newsok.com

Counties With Best and Worst Oil & Gas Economies of 2015: Oklahoma County

Oklahoma County led the country in oil industry job creation in 2015, according to a Headlight Data analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers. On the other end of the spectrum, Washington County in northeastern Oklahoma ranked No. 6 in oil industry job losses.

Recently released data show that oil, gas and mining job creation in 2015 across counties in the US varied from a high of 660 in Oklahoma County in Oklahoma City, OK to a loss of 1,140 jobs in Harris County in Houston, TX.

Out of 261 counties with oil & gas economies, 2 of the Top 10 are in Texas: Ector County and Montgomery County. Two are in North Dakota: Williams County and Dunn County. Kern County (Bakersfield, CA) and Eddy County (Carlsbad, NM) also created a large number of oil & gas jobs.

Read more at: headlightdata.com

Oklahoma On Track to Top California in Wind Power Capacity


amk713 / Flickr

Oklahoma remained No. 4 in the U.S. in installed wind power capacity during the second quarter of 2016, but a national industry group expects the state to move up the ranks by the end of the year.

No new wind farms have been completed in recent months, according to a report from the American Wind Energy Association, but more than 1,100 megawatts are currently under construction, The Oklahoman’s Paul Monies reports:

Oklahoma has 5,453 megawatts of wind capacity installed, after adding 270 megawatts in the first quarter. The state continued to rank fourth in the nation for installed wind capacity, following Texas, Iowa and California. Nationally, more than 49,000 turbines are installed, representing 74,821 megawatts of capacity. Continue Reading

“Oklahoma Forestry Services Closing 4 Offices Due to Budget”

Oklahoma Forestry Services is “closing four offices and reducing services in a restructuring plan forced by budget reductions,” the Associated Press reports. The 2016 budget bill included a 10.6 percent cut in funding to the division’s umbrella agency, the Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, state records show.

Forestry Services Director George Geissler says the agency plans to reallocate resources to maximize its remaining services. While some services will no longer be available to landowners in western Oklahoma, all 77 Oklahoma counties will continue to receive wildfire suppression support.

Offices being closed include those in Enid, Burns Flat and Ardmore in the western half of the state and Battiest in southeastern Oklahoma. Employees who work at the offices are being reassigned to other locations or offered different positions within the agency.

Read more at: www.koco.com

“WATCH: Oklahoma Oil Tycoon Harold Hamm Criticizes Clinton During RNC Energy Speech”

Billionaire Oklahoma oilman Harold Hamm sharply criticized environmental regulations in a pro-Donald Trump speech on energy policy at the Republican National Convention Wednesday night.

The Continental Resources CEO’s remarks came amid reports he would be named energy secretary if the Republican candidate is elected in November. Hamm is a supporter and one of Trump’s most important energy influencers. The fossil fuel mogul warned that presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton would continue President Obama’s legacy of smothering oil and gas producers with punitive regulations. Hamm said electing Trump would reverse those government hurdles, untether the energy industry, and create millions of jobs.

Read more at: kgou.org

As Cities in Oklahoma Update Streetlights With LEDs, Doctors Warn About Road Ahead

Oklahoma Department of Transportation engineers are testing an LED interchange light tower in the parking lot of its Oklahoma City headquarters.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma Department of Transportation engineers are testing an LED interchange light tower in the parking lot of the agency's Oklahoma City headquarters.

Cities across the state are hoping to cut down their electricity and maintenance bills by updating street and highway lights with new technology. LEDs save energy and money, but doctors say the lights could have unintended health and environmental consequences.

Continue Reading

“PSO Drops Distributed Generation Case”

Public Service Co. filed an application July 14 “to withdraw its proposed tariff for distributed generation sources such as rooftop solar or small wind turbines,” The Oklahoman’s Paul Monies reports.

PSO spokeswoman Tiffini Jackson said circumstances have changed since the initial application was filed.

“We believe collaborative efforts of the industry and other interested parties, in addition to the ability for a more in-depth review of data specific to distributed generation customers, present an opportunity for us to potentially present an even better approach,” Jackson said Thursday. “For these reasons, in the interest of making sure we get this right for all customers and to make the most effective and efficient use of time for everyone involved in the case, we are asking the commission to delay considering changes to our rate structures on distributed generation.”

Read more at: newsok.com

“Bittersweet Harvest: Weak Market Greets State’s Banner Wheat Crop”

Oklahoma had one of the best wheat harvests in years, but “tremendous yields” hit a poor market paying just $3.44 per bushel instead of the $5.48 paid out on the same day last year, The Oklahoman’s Jesse Pound Reports.

“We basically … had two crops in one [in 2016] because of the tremendous yields,” said Joe Neal Hampton, president and CEO of Oklahoma Grain and Feed Association in Enid. The Agriculture Department has the state with a yield of 40 bushels per harvested acre, which would be the best since the turn of the century.

Wheat prices have been low for a long time, and many farmers did not sell all of their crop last year, with prices depressed by international production. This year’s harvest is just being added to the pile, leaving storage tight across the southern plains, Hampton said.

Read more at: newsok.com

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