May 2015 already ranks as one of the wettest in state history, and continues to snuff out the four-year drought that dried up cities in southwest Oklahoma. Water rationing helped keep Duncan, Lawton and Altus afloat, but those cities are now scaling back their water-saving mandates.
PRAISE AND WORRY
In Altus on May 19, the city council thanked God for the recent wet weather, and asked for the knowledge to be good stewards of this new bounty of water.
And to many people in Altus, it does feel like a miracle has happened. Craig Nance lives just outside town among greenhouses and young trees, all bursting with life. He says residents have been streaming to area lakes just to take a look at them.
“It’s a parade. And it’s fun to watch,” he says. “People are just driving to the lakes to see the water level. Gotta see it to believe it.”
Legislation was signed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott after the city of Denton voted to restrict fracking. Denton officials say oil companies should not wield more power than citizens.
Editor's Note: Sharon Wilson, an organizer interviewed in this story, began advocating for fracking reform in Denton in 2009 as an unpaid citizen leader. In 2011, she was hired as a full-time organizer by the environmental group Earthworks to continue her anti-fracking work in Denton.
Lawmakers in Nebraska have given final approval to a measure that would abolish the death penalty with enough votes to override a threatened veto from Gov. Pete Ricketts.
The vote was 32-15. Conservative Nebraska has a unicameral Legislature and all bills go through three votes. In the previous round, the vote was 30-16; in the first, it was 30-13. It would take 30 votes to override a veto from Ricketts, a Republican. If that happens, Nebraska will become the first Republican-controlled state in the U.S. to repeal the death penalty since North Dakota in 1973.
The Atlantic hurricane season starts next month — a time when coastal states have their disaster plans at the ready. Now, the federal government wants states to consider the potential effects of climate change in those blueprints.
States lay out strategies for reducing harm from a whole host of calamities that might strike, such as hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, or drought.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, gives states money to mitigate those risks — grants that might help pay for tornado safe rooms, or to elevate buildings in a flood zone, for instance.
The new American Fitness Index is out, with some good news and bad news. Five metro areas fell five or more slots; nine others rose by five or more places. The rankings tally several criteria, from rates of smoking, diabetes and obesity to access to parks.