Joe Wertz

StateImpact Oklahoma

Joe has previously served as Managing Editor of Urban Tulsa Weekly, as the Arts & Entertainment Editor at Oklahoma Gazette and worked as a Staff Writer for The Oklahoman. Joe was a weekly correspondent for KGOU from 2007-2010. He grew up in Bartlesville, Okla., lives in Oklahoma City, and studied journalism at the University of Central Oklahoma.

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Bill Davis / Flickr

A temporary mass migration that could reach into the millions is expected as people across the United States relocate to catch a prime view of the country’s first coast-to-coast total eclipse in nearly a century.

The vast majority of the country, including Oklahoma, isn’t in the path of “totality.”

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

A key part in solving the state’s earthquake crisis is the long-term management of an enormous amount of oil-field wastewater likely triggering the shaking. The energy industry is working to solve this billion-barrel-a-year problem, and one promising alternative to risky disposal wells is reusing wastewater instead of pumping it underground.

The oil and gas industry has a love-hate relationship with water.

An earthquake of preliminary magnitude 4.2 hit central Oklahoma on Wednesday night, the U.S. Geological Survey said, the sixth earthquake to affect the area in just over 24 hours.

Four hours later, a less intense earthquake of a preliminary magnitude 3.5 struck the area in the early hours of Thursday.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The U.S. Environmental Protection agency is moving to add an Oklahoma facility that inspected and repaired aircraft oxygen and fire extinguisher systems to the nation’s list of most polluted hazardous waste sites.

Eagle Industries operated from 1990 to 2010 in Midwest City. The site is now inactive, officials say. A for-lease sign is planted in front of the office building, which appears to be vacant.

INVENERGY

The largest wind farm in the U.S. is under construction in Oklahoma’s panhandle, an 800-turbine project expected to deliver electricity to more than 1.1 million customers in four states.

Chicago power developer Invenergy and General Electric teamed up on the 2-gigawatt Wind Catcher Energy Connection facility, which should be online by 2020.

American Conservative Union / C-SPAN

Records show U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt traveled to his home state of Oklahoma 10 times during his first three full months on the job.

Travel documents obtained by the Environmental Integrity Project show Pruitt spent nearly half his days from March through May in Oklahoma or traveling to and from the state, where he previously served as attorney general.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The tiny community of Bokoshe is flanked by old mines, which companies are filling with thousands of tons of waste produced by the coal-fired power plant down the road.

The coal waste — known as coal ash, or fly ash — is a powdery, pernicious dust that blows off trucks and pits. Residents worry about breathing the ash, fear it has contaminated local water supplies and have linked it to various medical problems, including cancer.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

It's a Saturday at Choctaw High School, but for hundreds of Oklahoma teachers, there's a training class in session. Carrie Miller-DeBoer perches atop a stool monitoring a pair of soda bottles linked with a small length of thin plastic tubing created to mimic enhanced oil recovery, while teaching chemistry fundamentals.

"I love it and my students will be so excited," she says.

BILL WILSON / FLICKR/CC BY 2.0

The growing number of wind farms in western Oklahoma is disrupting military flight training, state aeronautics and military officials say.

The problem is concentrated along flight paths used for military training near Vance Air Force Base in Enid and Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission Director Victor Bird tells the Tulsa World’s Barbara Hoberock:

More than half the oil and gas a typical horizontal well will produce over its lifetime in Oklahoma is pumped to the surface during its first three years, a new report from Oklahoma Watch shows.

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