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

‘EPA Tells Oklahoma State Isn’t ‘Doing Enough’ to Protect Citizens’

The letter to Oklahoma’s three corporation commissioners is especially relevant because of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s pending appointment to head the EPA, Ziva Branstetter reports. “Pruitt would be in a position to alter the EPA’s request and position on induced seismicity in Oklahoma. Such an action would impact energy companies here that have partnered with Pruitt in lawsuits against the federal agency to roll back or halt environmental regulations.”

EPA tells Oklahoma state isn’t ‘doing enough’ to protect citizens

The letter from Ron Curry, administrator for the EPA’s Region 6, notes that Oklahoma has taken some measures to reduce injection of wastewater produced by oil and gas drilling but states additional measures should be taken. Continue Reading

Republicans Outmaneuver Democratic Boycott to Allow Senate Vote on Oklahoma’s Scott Pruitt for EPA Boss

Empty chairs in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee mark Democrats' boycott of a vote to advance the nomination of Oklahoma AG Scott Pruitt to lead the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

C-SPAN

Empty chairs in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee mark Democrats' boycott of a vote to advance the nomination of Oklahoma AG Scott Pruitt to lead the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

With no Democrats in the room, U.S. Senate Republicans on Thursday voted unanimously to approve the nomination of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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Oklahoma AG and EPA Pick Pruitt Stalled Pollution Lawsuit After Contributions From Poultry Industry

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt speaking about energy self-sufficiency at the Conservative Political Action Conference in March 2016.

American Conservative Union / C-SPAN

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt speaking about energy self-sufficiency at the Conservative Political Action Conference in March 2016.

President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee to run the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, walked back a legal fight to clean up rivers polluted by chicken manure after accepting tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions linked to the poultry industry, campaign and court records show. Continue Reading

‘Pruitt Didn’t Follow State Law on Reporting Outside Attorney Costs’

Attorney General Scott Pruitt, who is about to face Senate hearings to confirm his nomination as administrator of the EPA, has failed to follow a state law requiring his agency to report spending on outside attorneys, The Frontier’s Ziva Branstetter reports.

Pruitt didn’t follow state law on reporting outside attorney costs

The Frontier first asked his office for records last month showing how much it spent each year on outside legal contracts. Though the office posted the reports to the attorney general’s website late Tuesday, they do not include Pruitt’s office in the list of reports. Continue Reading

‘Pruitt Fundraising PACs to Wind Down by EPA Confirmation Hearing, Attorney Says’

An attorney for Scott Pruitt two political action committees says the groups will be terminated by the time the Oklahoma attorney general’s Senate confirmation hearings for administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, The Oklahoman’s Paul Monies reports:

Pruitt fundraising PACs to wind down by EPA confirmation hearing, attorney says

Two federal political action committees formed to support Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt and conservative causes will shutter operations this month ahead of his planned Senate confirmation hearings for administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Continue Reading

$2.6 Million Paid By Farmers And Ranchers Missing From Oklahoma Beef Council

A foreman at the Shirley Ranch helps unload a trailer of Red Angus cattle to winter in a pasture near Alva, Okla.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

A foreman at the Shirley Ranch helps unload a trailer of Red Angus cattle to winter in a pasture near Alva, Okla.

A federal investigation has been launched into the alleged embezzlement of $2.6 million by an employee of an obscure state board that promotes the beef industry, money created by a mandatory government program funded by farmers and ranchers. Continue Reading

Why Oklahoma and Other Red States Might Pump Up Gasoline Taxes to Fill Budget Holes

An abandoned gas station near Edmond, Okla.

Michael Kesler / Flickr/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

An abandoned gas station near Edmond, Okla.

Oklahoma lawmakers are staring into a budget hole that’s nearly $900 million deep — and they might not be able to cut their way out of it. Legislators are considering tax increases to help fund state government, and one idea is gaining traction: Hiking taxes on gasoline and diesel.

State taxes on motor fuel haven’t been touched since 1987. There are a lot of similarities between the situation then and what Oklahoma lawmakers now face: An economy shaken by low oil prices and dwindling revenue streams to fund state government. Continue Reading

Trump’s Nomination of Pruitt to EPA Casts Spotlight On States’ Crusade Against Federal ‘Overreach’

scott-pruitt2014-1_WEB

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Donald Trump wants Scott Pruitt to run the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Oklahoma attorney general is a fierce ally of fossil fuel companies and one of the EPA’s biggest opponents. The nomination draws a sharp line dividing industry and environmentalists that could test the limits of another big fight: state sovereignty.

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