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

“Judge Halts New Regulations on Osage County Oil Production”

U.S. Chief District Judge Gregory Frizzell granted a preliminary injunction after finding the feds “failed to provide a factual basis for its determination that the new regulations would not adversely impact small businesses” and “overstepped its authority in determining how much royalties should be paid by leaseholders,” the Tulsa World reports.

Groups representing the Osage Nation and oil producers operating in Osage County sued the federal government in early July, claiming new rules about to take effect would lead to decreased production and royalties and effectively kill the oil industry in the largest county in the state. Among other concerns, the producers claimed the new regulations would increase their costs tremendously, while the Osage Nation claimed the new rules infringed upon their sovereignty.

Read more at: m.tulsaworld.com

Problems at Privately Run Treatment Plant Left Hugo Residents With Unsafe Water

About 7,000 residents in Hugo lived for months with unsafe drinking water because a private company improperly disinfected municipal water supplies and misreported data to local and state officials.

Severn Trent Services, which took over the city’s water treatment in 2007, “didn’t use enough chlorine for more than 300 days over the course of two years,” Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality findings show, The Journal Record‘s Sarah Terry-Cobo reports:

Hugo residents were potentially exposed to deadly viruses and bacteria because the company didn’t use the most basic water disinfecting chemical, according to agency findings.

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“Gov. Mary Fallin: Regulations Won’t Have Immediate Impact on Number of Quakes”

Gov. Mary Fallin and other members of a council tasked with studying Oklahoma’s uptick in seismic activity say “changes in regulatory policies governing disposal wells will not have an immediate impact on the number of earthquakes in the state,” the Tulsa World’s Barbara Hoberock reports.

“I think it is important for the people of Oklahoma to understand that just because there is a change in regulatory policy doesn’t mean you are going to see an action next week or one month or two months or six months,” Fallin said. “It could be a year until we see a measurable difference. We are trying to figure out day by day what is the best thing to do.”

Read more at: www.tulsaworld.com

Oil Companies Shut Down Wells Near Earthquake Swarm

A disposal well in northwestern Oklahoma.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

A disposal well in northwestern Oklahoma.

After a swarm of earthquakes recorded near the town of Crescent, which peaked with a 4.5-magnitude temblor on Monday, state regulators asked a pair of oil companies to limit activity at three nearby disposal wells.

Monday’s quake caused light damage. Multiple people reported feeling it in Arkansas, more than 400 miles away

Oklahoma City’s Devon Energy Production and Arkansas-based Stephens Energy Group agreed to shut down the two wells nearest the shaking. Stephens also agreed to cut by half the amount of waste fluid pumped into a third well, says Corporation Commission spokesperson Matt Skinner. Continue Reading

“Oklahoma Wind Farm Construction Continues During Second Quarter”

Oklahoma is expected to add an additional 1,440 megawatts in wind energy, The Oklahoman’s Paul Monies reports.

Oklahoma added 150 megawatts of wind capacity in the second quarter, according to the association’s latest market report. The addition came from the Osage Wind project in Osage County hooking up to the electric grid. The project, owned by Enel Green Power North America Inc., supplies power to Missouri-based Associated Electric Cooperative Inc. In the state rankings, Oklahoma remained in fourth place, putting its total wind capacity at 3,932 megawatts. The U.S. had a total of 67,870 megawatts of wind capacity by the end of the second quarter, the association said.

Read more at: newsok.com

“Oil Industry Warns of Cost of Proposed Disposal Well Ban in Oklahoma”

A moratorium on disposal wells proposed by the Oklahoma Chapter of the Sierra Club and one state lawmaker “could create economic and environmental problems throughout the state,” representatives of the oil and gas industry say, The Oklahoman’s Adam Wilmoth reports.

“Wastewater injection has been safely conducted in Oklahoma for nearly a century, and it’s an important component of oil and natural gas development, which itself is a critical part of Oklahoma’s economy,” said Steve Everly, Energy In Depth’s senior advisor. “Critics have suggested that injection can simply be shut down in response to earthquakes, but they fail to recognize the costs — both economic and environmental — that Oklahomans would bear if that type of policy were implemented. Science is infinitely more complex than campaign slogans, so people should be skeptical of so-called solutions that are based more on anti-drilling advocacy than effective risk management.” A moratorium effectively would ban drilling throughout the area, including wells not linked to the earthquakes, the report stated.

Read more at: newsok.com

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