Oklahoma

Economy, Energy, Natural Resources: Policy to People

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From Closed Doors to Open Arms, Oklahoma Oil Industry Optimistic About Business Under President Trump

Donald Trump campaigning at an immigration policy speech at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr/CC BY-NC 2.0

Donald Trump campaigning at an immigration policy speech at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona.

From board rooms to drilling rigs, much of the U.S. fossil fuel industry has been counting down the days until President Barack Obama turns over the keys of the White House. Donald Trump doesn’t officially take the wheel of the nation’s energy policy for a couple of months, but Oklahoma’s oil and gas industry says its prospects have already improved under the president-elect.


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A Conversation With Oklahoma’s Long-Time Water Boss

Former Oklahoma Water Resources Board Executive Director and new Department of Wildlife Conservation Director J.D. Strong.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Former Oklahoma Water Resources Board Executive Director and new Department of Wildlife Conservation Director J.D. Strong.

J.D. Strong has been an influential leader in Oklahoma water issues for many years, and served as Executive Director of the state water regulator since 2010. Earlier this year he left the Water Resources Board to head the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

StateImpact talked to Strong in his new office to talk about the water challenges that remain and the issues facing wildlife conservation that are now his problem.

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A Field Guide to State Question 777: StateImpact’s Documentary on OK’s Agricultural Ballot Measure

Sarah, Dave and Barbara Jacques on their farm and ranch in Osage County. The Jacques family strongly supports a 'yes' vote on State Question 777.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Sarah Vap and her parents, Dave and Barbara Jacques on their farm and ranch in Osage County. The Jacques family strongly supports a 'yes' vote on State Question 777.

When Oklahoma voters go to the polls next week, they’ll decide on State Question 777, known by supporters as the right-to-farm amendment. The measure would make farming and ranching a constitutional right and make it harder for the Legislature to enact laws that further regulate the agriculture industry.

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The Legal Complications of Oklahoma’s State Question to Constitutionally Protect Farming

Goats on a farm near Covington, Okla.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Goats on a farm near Covington, Okla.

State Question 777 would create a constitutional right to farm and ranch in Oklahoma, giving the agriculture industry unique protection from the state legislature. The ballot question concerns livestock and crops, but legal experts say the statewide measure will likely come down to lawsuits and courts.

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Uncertainty Surrounds Right-to-Farm Even In States That Adopted It Years Ago

Attendees listen as former Missouri state senator Wes Shoemyer speaks against Amendment 1 at the Missouri’s Food for America sign-making event at Café Berlin Friday, June 27, 2014 in Columbia, Missouri.

KOMUnews / flickr

Attendees listen as former Missouri state senator Wes Shoemyer speaks against Amendment 1 at the Missouri’s Food for America sign-making event at Café Berlin Friday, June 27, 2014 in Columbia, Missouri.

Oklahoma could become the third state to add a “right-to-farm” amendment to its constitution if voters approve State Question 777 this November. Voters in North Dakota and Missouri already adopted such a measure, but, the effects remain unclear there, even years after passage.

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Groups Opposing State Question On Agriculture Form Unusual Alliance Over Water

Trout Unlimited's Scott Hood prepares to release this small trout he caught during the group's fishing trip to the Lower Illinois River near the Lake Tenkiller dam in eastern Oklahoma.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Trout Unlimited's Scott Hood prepares to release this small trout he caught during the group's fishing trip to the Lower Illinois River near the Lake Tenkiller dam in eastern Oklahoma.

State Question 777 — also known as ‘right-to-farm’ — would give agricultural producers in Oklahoma the constitutional right to raise livestock and grow crops without interference from future regulations by the state Legislature, without a compelling state interest.

Opposition to the state question comes from multiple sources, but a diverse coalition urging a ‘no’ vote is united by a shared concern: water.

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Why a Remote Corner of Oklahoma’s Panhandle Might Be The Perfect Place to Throw a Star Party

An amateur astronomer looks at chart on a red-filtered computer monitor at the 2016 Okie-Tex Star Party near Oklahoma's Black Mesa State Park.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

An amateur astronomer looks at chart on a red-filtered computer monitor at the 2016 Okie-Tex Star Party near Oklahoma's Black Mesa State Park.

The Oklahoma Panhandle is empty and hard to get to. The region attracts few people, very little industry and none of the light pollution that accompany both. It’s a remote location that’s earning a national reputation as the perfect spot to stare deep into space.

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Heavy Fundraising on State Question 777 Suggests Right-to-Farm is High-Stakes Political Issue

Farmers Wayne and Fred Schmedt watch a combine harvest wheat on their fields near Altus, Okla.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Farmers Wayne and Fred Schmedt watch a combine harvest wheat on their fields near Altus, Okla.

Oklahoma voters will decide in November whether to change the state constitution with new language protecting the agriculture industry.

Informally known as the right-to-farm amendment, State Question 777 raises a lot of legal, environmental and economic questions. A StateImpact analysis of state campaign finance data shows the issue has attracted more direct donations than any other ballot question, suggesting right-to-farm is high-stakes Oklahoma politics.

 

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Decades After Turning Backs on Risky Water, Tulsans Wade Into Arkansas River

Floaters navigate their homemade raft down the Arkansas River in Tulsa, Okla., during the annual Great Raft Race on Labor Day 2016.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Floaters navigate their homemade raft down the Arkansas River in Tulsa, Okla., during the annual Great Raft Race on Labor Day 2016.

The section of the Arkansas River that runs through Tulsa is changing. For much of the city’s history, business owners constructed buildings facing away from what has been considered a polluted eyesore. But now Tulsa is embracing its most prominent physical feature.

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