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

Judge Rules Against Oklahoma AG Pruitt, Orders Trump’s EPA Pick to Release Emails

Center for Media and Democracy attorney Robert Nelon, center,  outside a courtroom in Oklahoma City.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Center for Media and Democracy attorney Robert Nelon, center, outside a courtroom in Oklahoma City.

An Oklahoma County District judge on Thursday ordered Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s office to turn over emails and other documents requested two years ago by a watchdog group. Continue Reading

‘Oklahoma Moves Up to Third Place in State Rankings for Wind Power’

The latest market report from the American Wind Energy Association comes as lawmakers start discussions over the future of state incentives for wind generation “and the possibility of a new tax on wind production proposed by Gov. Mary Fallin,” The Oklahoman’s Paul Monies reports.

Oklahoma moves up to third place in state rankings for wind power

Oklahoma added almost 1,200 megawatts of wind capacity in the last three months of 2016 as it leapfrogged California to take third place among the states for wind capacity. Continue Reading

Embezzlement Investigation in Oklahoma Adds to Questions About Oversight of Federal Beef Promotion Program

A worker corrals cattle into a chute at Oklahoma National Stockyards in Oklahoma City.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

A worker corrals cattle into a chute at Oklahoma National Stockyards in Oklahoma City.

Federal authorities are investigating the alleged embezzlement of $2.6 million dollars from an obscure Oklahoma board that promotes the beef industry. The investigation and related lawsuits add to questions about oversight of a national program funded by fees charged to ordinary farmers and ranchers.

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Gov. Mary Fallin’s State Budget Proposal Includes New Tax on Wind Energy

Wind turbines line the horizon near Kingfisher, Okla.

mtneer_ma / flickr

Wind turbines line the horizon near Kingfisher, Okla.

Gov. Mary Fallin on Monday proposed a new 0.5 cent per kilowatt hour tax on wind-generated electricity.

The new wind production tax is part of Fallin’s 2018 executive budget, a document written to guide the Legislature as it struggles to fill an $870 million revenue shortfall and write bills appropriating money to hundreds of state agencies. In her budget, Fallin also suggests an early end to tax incentives for the wind industry. Combined, the two efforts are expected to generate $36.6 million in revenue.

If lawmakers adopt Fallin’s proposal, Oklahoma would be the second state to impose a tax on wind power, “and its tax would be the nation’s highest,” The Oklahoman’s Paul Monies reports:

The idea of taxing wind production has been floated before at the Capitol, including last year when some oil and gas executives also said state wind incentives were too generous. The Legislature did not take any action to curtail the wind incentives or enact a new tax last year. Continue Reading

‘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

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