Economy, Energy, Natural Resources: Policy to People

Why Small City Has Little Say Over Natural Gas Plant Under Construction in Middle of Town

A natural gas compressor plant in northwestern Oklahoma.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

A natural gas compressor plant in northwestern Oklahoma.

Linn Energy needs a new compressor plant to serve customers in the SCOOP and STACK, hot oil and natural gas plays with very little infrastructure in place to collect and pump natural gas to existing pipeline systems.

But the plant is being constructed in the middle of the City of Tuttle, and due to Oklahoma’s 2015 anti-frack ban law that limits local governments’ ability to regulate oil and gas activity, there is very little officials like City Manager Tim Young can do about it, The Journal Record‘s Sarah Terry-Cobo reports:

Young has fielded residents’ concerns about noise from operations and about heavy truck traffic.

“I tell residents the city of Tuttle cannot tell an oil and gas company where to drill, so it’s best to work with the company and work within the existing statutes,” he said. “That leaves us with little ability to regulate the industry.” Continue Reading

“Lawsuit on Drilling Waste Draws Concerns From Industry, Regulators”

Environmental groups have challenged a decades-old exemption for oil and gas drillers from federal law and the energy industry and state regulators are worried a court ruling against the EPA and “the possibility of new regulations,” The Oklahoman’s Paul Monies reports.

Attorneys and staff at the Oklahoma Corporation Commission heard an update Tuesday on the federal case by a group of attorneys from the Crowe & Dunlevy law firm… Director Mary Ellen Ternes said federal law isn’t very clear on the differences between hazardous and nonhazardous waste. Much of it depends on the context of the uses or the industry, she said. “This area is confusing. It’s not completely laid out in the statutes or rules in a very straightforward manner,” Ternes said of the drilling waste lawsuit.

Read more at: newsok.com

The Demotion of a National Park in Oklahoma Exposes Shifting Attitudes About Preserving and Promoting Nature

Kids from a local youth organization laugh and splash in cold, spring-fed pools at the Chickasaw National Recreation Area.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Kids from a local youth organization laugh and splash in cold, spring-fed pools at the Chickasaw National Recreation Area near Sulphur, Okla.

The National Park Service turns 100 this year, and many states are celebrating top-tier environmental landmarks that are a big source of local pride. About half the U.S. states don’t have a national park — including Oklahoma.

That wasn’t always the case, and the story of what happened illustrates a changing view of what national parks are for.

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“OERB Chips Away at Oklahoma’s Abandoned Well Site Remediation, Commission Hears”

The Oklahoma Energy Resources Board has directed $100 million in voluntary assessments to clean up more than 15,000 abandoned oil and gas wells, but another 20,000 to 40,000 remain, The Oklahoman’s Paul Monies reports.

Each year, OERB restores about 750 sites, Sowers said. Some cleanups — breaking up and burying old concrete pads, for example — require just a few days, while others might take a couple of years if there has been extensive produced saltwater spillage in the past. On average, two or three sites are completed each day, he said.

Cleanup projects are competitively bid, although the OERB is exempt from state bidding rules. Sowers said well plugging remains the responsibility of the Corporation Commission, which has a dedicated well-plugging fund.

Read more at: newsok.com

Counties With Best and Worst Oil & Gas Economies of 2015: Oklahoma County

Oklahoma County led the country in oil industry job creation in 2015, according to a Headlight Data analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers. On the other end of the spectrum, Washington County in northeastern Oklahoma ranked No. 6 in oil industry job losses.

Recently released data show that oil, gas and mining job creation in 2015 across counties in the US varied from a high of 660 in Oklahoma County in Oklahoma City, OK to a loss of 1,140 jobs in Harris County in Houston, TX.

Out of 261 counties with oil & gas economies, 2 of the Top 10 are in Texas: Ector County and Montgomery County. Two are in North Dakota: Williams County and Dunn County. Kern County (Bakersfield, CA) and Eddy County (Carlsbad, NM) also created a large number of oil & gas jobs.

Read more at: headlightdata.com

Why City of Hugo Hasn’t Seen One Cent of Record Settlement Over Improperly Treated Drinking Water

Hugo, Okla., interim City Manager David Rawls.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Hugo, Okla., interim City Manager David Rawls.

Oklahoma’s primary environmental agency made a private contractor pay just under $1 million earlier in a settlement over improperly treated water in a small city in southern Oklahoma. But the state’s budget shortfall swallowed up the money before the city of Hugo had a chance to use it.

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Oklahoma On Track to Top California in Wind Power Capacity


amk713 / Flickr

Oklahoma remained No. 4 in the U.S. in installed wind power capacity during the second quarter of 2016, but a national industry group expects the state to move up the ranks by the end of the year.

No new wind farms have been completed in recent months, according to a report from the American Wind Energy Association, but more than 1,100 megawatts are currently under construction, The Oklahoman’s Paul Monies reports:

Oklahoma has 5,453 megawatts of wind capacity installed, after adding 270 megawatts in the first quarter. The state continued to rank fourth in the nation for installed wind capacity, following Texas, Iowa and California. Nationally, more than 49,000 turbines are installed, representing 74,821 megawatts of capacity. Continue Reading

“Oklahoma Forestry Services Closing 4 Offices Due to Budget”

Oklahoma Forestry Services is “closing four offices and reducing services in a restructuring plan forced by budget reductions,” the Associated Press reports. The 2016 budget bill included a 10.6 percent cut in funding to the division’s umbrella agency, the Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, state records show.

Forestry Services Director George Geissler says the agency plans to reallocate resources to maximize its remaining services. While some services will no longer be available to landowners in western Oklahoma, all 77 Oklahoma counties will continue to receive wildfire suppression support.

Offices being closed include those in Enid, Burns Flat and Ardmore in the western half of the state and Battiest in southeastern Oklahoma. Employees who work at the offices are being reassigned to other locations or offered different positions within the agency.

Read more at: www.koco.com

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