Oklahoma

Economy, Energy, Natural Resources: Policy to People

EPA Recommends Disposal Moratorium in Oklahoma’s Most Earthquake-Prone Areas

20160906 - pawnee quake pics125_WEB

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Officials with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency say Oklahoma oil and gas regulators should “consider a moratorium” of waste-fluid disposal in its most seismically active areas.

The suggestion was made in the federal agency’s annual review of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission’s oversight of disposal wells, which Energy Wire’s Mike Soraghan obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request: Continue Reading

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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‘September Flooding Leaves Otoe-Missouria Water Cloudy’

Mid-September rains in Kansas flooded Arkansas River tributaries, pulling soil and silt into the Otoe-Missouria’s water source below Kaw Lake. The filters in the tribe’s 23-year-old treatment plant “filters “weren’t designed to handle the influx,” the Journal Record‘s Sarah Terry-Cobo reports.

September flooding leaves Otoe-Missouria water cloudy

A water quality inspector with the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality was doing a routine inspection on Sept. 22 and measured water cloudiness 34 times higher than allowed. DEQ water quality specialist Jennifer Alig said it was unclear whether the highly cloudy water was sent through the pipes and to customers, so it was important that the agency act quickly.

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‘DOJ Subpoenas Chesapeake Documents’

Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake Energy has been “named in several lawsuits alleging underpayment of royalties and defended cases in Arkansas, Louisiana, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Texas,” the Journal Record’s Sarah Terry-Cobo reports.

DOJ subpoenas Chesapeake documents

The Justice Department is also seeking information on how the company acquires and classifies its oil and gas properties. The company also received subpoenas from the U.S. Postal Service and state agencies for information on its royalty payment practices. Continue Reading

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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‘Why The Oil and Gas Industry is Not Giving to Trump’

Donald Trump is the keynote speaker at the annual Shale Insight conference in Pittsburgh this week, but the energy industry isn’t opening its wallets to the Republican nominee. In a typical they election they would, reports StateImpact Pennsylvania’s Susan Phillips: “So what’s going on here?”

Why the oil and gas industry is not giving to Trump

Among the many oddities in this election, the 2016 Republican candidate for president has gotten peanuts from one of the GOP’s most reliable donor base.

Industry employees contacted by StateImpact did not want to speak on the record. But it could be that they just don’t know what they’ll get with a Trump White House.

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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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‘Quake Frequency Declines, Seismic Energy in Oklahoma Increases’

Though the rate of earthquakes “has declined from its peak,” the 5.8-magnitude earthquake near Pawnee has made 2016 the most seismically active year on record “as measured by seismic energy release,” Oklahoma Geological Survey Director Jeremy Boak tells the Enid News‘ Sally Asher.

Studying seismicity: Quake frequency declines, seismic energy in Oklahoma increases

ENID, Okla. – As “Earthquake!” became a household term in Oklahoma, the temblors normally associated with California or Japan produced more questions than answers. Scientists across Oklahoma are working to learn more about why the Sooner State is moving and shaking.

 

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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State Regulators Expand Limits on Disposal Wells Near Labor Day Weekend Quake

Oklahoma Regulators Expand Limits On Disposal Operations Near Labor Day Earthquake

Federal and state regulators on Monday expanded and modified emergency orders limiting oil and gas activity at wells near a fault line that produced Oklahoma’s strongest earthquake on record. Regulators are targeting 67 disposal wells in two counties near the damaging 5.8-magnitude earthquake that rocked the state over the Labor Day weekend.

 

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