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As State Budgets Falter, Oklahoma Turns to Other States to Fight Its Most Dangerous Wildfires

Guthrie Fire Chief Eric Harlow.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Guthrie Fire Chief Eric Harlow.

Crews have worked for more than a week to contain a massive wildfire that has torched more than a thousand square miles and killed one person and thousands of head of livestock in northwestern parts of Oklahoma. State budget cuts mean Oklahoma increasingly depends on other states to fight its largest and most dangerous wildfires.

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Oklahoma Bill To Protect ‘Critical Infrastructure’ Could Curb Public Protest, Critics Say

A field medic raises her fist as protestors stand near a fire blocking a road along the Dakota Access Pipeline Route near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota.

Avery White / Oceti Sakowin Camp/CC BY-NC 2.0

A field medic raises her fist as protestors stand near a fire blocking a road along the Dakota Access Pipeline Route near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota.

Oklahoma legislators are advancing a bill that outlaws trespassing on sites containing “critical infrastructure.” Supporters say the measure will help prevent damage and disruption of energy markets, electric grids and water services, but environmental activists and civil rights groups say the bill’s real purpose is to block political protests of pipelines and similar projects.

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To Keep Future Droughts at Bay, Oklahoma Looks to Store Water Underground Before it Flows Away

Mill Creek, southwest of Ada's Byrd's Mill Creek in south-central Oklahoma, also originates from the Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Mill Creek, southwest of Ada's Byrd's Mill Creek in south-central Oklahoma, also originates from the Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer.

The crippling five-year drought Oklahoma finally broke out of in 2015 is still fresh in the memory of the state’s water regulators, which is looking for ways the state can better withstand future dry spells. The Water Resources Board this week approved new rules to allow water to be stored underground, in aquifers.

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Rep. Leslie Osborn On GRDA: Should We Be In The Electric Utility Business?

Rep. Leslie Osborn, R-Mustang, the new chair of the House Appropriations and Budget Committee.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Rep. Leslie Osborn, R-Mustang, the new chair of the House Appropriations and Budget Committee.

State Representative Leslie Osborn is the new chair of the powerful House Appropriations and Budget Committee, an influential position that gives her bills extra weight. StateImpact talked to Osborn about legislation she’s pushing to increase mining fees, and to explore the sale of the Grand River Dam Authority.


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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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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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Cherokee Nation Preserves Food Culture by Freezing History

Biologist and Cherokee Nation Administrative Liaison Pat Gwin removes white eagle corn seeds from the seed bank freezer at Cherokee Nation headquarters in Tahlequah, Okla.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Biologist and Cherokee Nation Administrative Liaison Pat Gwin removes white eagle corn seeds from the seed bank freezer at Cherokee Nation headquarters in Tahlequah, Okla.

Before the Cherokee people were forced from their lands in the eastern U.S. along the Trail of Tears, the tribe grew varieties of crops now nearly lost. But at the Cherokee Nation Seed Bank in Tahlequah, Okla., a vital part of the tribe’s history is kept frozen.

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