Drought-Breaking Rain Proving Too Much, Too Late for Oklahoma Wheat Farmers

A combine crew from South Dakota harvests wheat near Altus in southwest Oklahoma.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

A combine crew from South Dakota harvests wheat near Altus in southwest Oklahoma.

May 2015 was Oklahoma’s wettest month on record. The historic rainfall washed away an economically draining drought that haunted parts of the state for five years. For many wheat farmers in southwestern Oklahoma, however, the record rainfall is too much, too late.

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“Oklahoma Wind Industry Looks to Finish Projects Before Tax Incentives End”

Oklahoma might see a surge of wind projects in the next 18 months as developers rush to install projects before tax incentives expire at the end of 2016, the Tulsa World’s Michael Overall reports.


The question is what happens after Jan. 1, 2017, when some of the incentives disappear.
Responding to complaints that wind subsidies were creating a burden on the state budget, the Legislature voted earlier this year to let two types of tax credits expire. Senate Bill 498 will do away with a five-year property tax exemption for wind developments, while SB 502 will prevent wind developments from using a “new jobs” tax credit.

Read more at: m.tulsaworld.com

Why Midwest City and Del City Oppose Norman’s Plan to Reuse Wastewater

Lake Thunderbird, near Norman, Okla.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Lake Thunderbird, near Norman, Okla.

It was around this time last year that the Norman City Council decided to stake its water future on reuse — sending cleaned wastewater back into Lake Thunderbird, the city’s main water source. It’s an ambitious, future-looking plan Norman Mayor Cindy Rosenthal says is in line with the state’s goal of using no more water in 2060 than it did in 2012.

But Norman isn’t the only city that relies on Lake Thunderbird for its water, and Midwest City and Del City are against the plan, which will make it more difficult to bring the idea before the Department of Environmental Quality for approval.

As The Oklahoman‘s William Crum reports, Rosenthal is calling the two cities’ opposition to the plan premature: Continue Reading

Power Struggle: The Oil and Gas Boom and an Outbreak of Earthquakes in Oklahoma

Lawrence Stasyszen, abbott of St. Gregory's Abbey, stands inside the monastery's condemned workshop in Shawnee, Okla. The monastery and associated college are still reeling from millions in damage from a 5.7-magnitude quake that struck in 2011.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Lawrence Stasyszen, abbot of St. Gregory's Abbey, stands inside the monastery's condemned workshop in Shawnee, Okla. The monastery and nearby college are still reeling from millions in damage from a 5.7-magnitude quake that struck in 2011.

In 2014, Oklahoma had more than three times as many earthquakes as California, and this year, the state is on track for even more. A lot of them are small, but some towns are seeing a quake almost every day, and seismologists warn that large and damaging earthquakes are becoming more likely.

The government in the Sooner State has only recently acknowledged the scope of the oil and gas industry’s role in the problem.

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“Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. Embarks on 2.5-megawatt Solar Pilot Project”

OG&E’s $7.5 million test project near Mustang has two sites, one with 2,000 fixed solar panels; the other with about 8,000 panels that track the sun, Paul Monies reports.


Scott Milanowski, OG&E’s director of engineering, innovation and technology, said the south site is equivalent to about 100 homes with solar panels; the north site would be about 400 homes. OG&E drew criticism from some renewable energy advocates last year after it supported legislation to end a 1977 law that forbade utilities in Oklahoma from charging more to solar users. Senate Bill 1456 allows regulated utilities to ask regulators to establish a new rate structure for users of distributed generation from rooftop solar or small wind turbines. Utilities argued the change was needed so distributed generation users were paying their fair share of grid-connection costs. Critics contend it was a defensive move intended to stave off competition from fast-growing solar generation.

Read more at: newsok.com

State Parks in Danger After Tourism Department’s $16 Million Budget Cut

Justin Stratford and several of his nieces and nephews play in Lake Thunderbird on a road trip from Arizona.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Justin Stratford and several of his nieces and nephews play in Lake Thunderbird on a road trip from Arizona.

The $7.1 billion state budget Governor Mary Fallin signed in June 2015 included deep cuts to the Oklahoma Department of Tourism and Recreation — the agency that runs the state park system. That could mean some parks will have to be closed or transferred to new operators, and some eastern Oklahoma lawmakers are fuming.

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Agency That Protects Oklahoma’s Scenic Rivers Takes Another Big Budget Cut

James Gaylor plays in a tributary of the Illinois River near Tahlequah, Okla.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

James Gaylor plays in a tributary of the Illinois River near Tahlequah, Okla.

When Governor Mary Fallin signed the $7.1 billion budget earlier this week, the Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission took a big cut. It’s a small state agency with a big job: overseeing hundreds of miles of river and roads in northeast Oklahoma with dwindling resources.

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