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.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court has granted a request by the Attorney General’s office to delay a lower court’s order requiring the agency to turn over records sought by a watchdog group.

The Center for Media and Democracy sued the agency in February to force it to handover emails sent during the tenure of former attorney general Scott Pruitt, now administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Crude prices are on the rise, drilling activity is ramping up, and Oklahoma’s oil and gas regulator wants to limit the volume of wastewater energy companies pump into underground disposal wells, an activity scientists say is fueling the state’s earthquake boom.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Emails made public Wednesday show newly confirmed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt coordinated with the fossil fuel industry and political groups to fight federal environmental regulations when he served as Oklahoma’s attorney general.

EPA

Former Oklahoma Attorney General and new Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt addressed employees of the federal agency for the first time today.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The U.S. Senate on Friday confirmed Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, a federal regulatory agency the Oklahoma politician has built his brand fighting against. 

Pruitt has led a coordinated legal effort to fight the EPA through the courts, an alliance with other Republican attorneys general that’s made him popular among conservatives. The confirmation sends a strong signal that Congressional Republicans share with President Donald Trump a vision of diminished federal oversight of the fossil fuel industry.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

An Oklahoma County District judge on Thursday ordered Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s office to turn over emails and other documents requested two years ago by a watchdog group.

In the ruling against Trump’s pick to lead the U.S. Environmental Protection agency, judge Aletia Haynes Timmons said the agency violated state transparency laws.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Federal authorities are investigating the alleged embezzlement of $2.6 million dollars from an obscure Oklahoma board that promotes the beef industry. The investigation and related lawsuits add to questions about oversight of a national program funded by fees charged to ordinary farmers and ranchers.

On a brisk and busy January morning at the Oklahoma National Stockyards, cattle arrive for auction in trailers pulled by pickup trucks — and leave in double-decker cars towed by semis.

C-SPAN

The Center for Media and Democracy on Tuesday filed an open records lawsuit against Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, accusing the Trump administration’s pick to lead the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency of failing to provide public access to emails and other documents for more than two years.

MTNEER_MA / FLICKR

Gov. Mary Fallin on Monday proposed a new 0.5 cent per kilowatt hour tax on wind-generated electricity.

The new wind production tax is part of Fallin’s 2018 executive budget, a document written to guide the Legislature as it struggles to fill an $870 million revenue shortfall and write bills appropriating money to hundreds of state agencies. In her budget, Fallin also suggests an early end to tax incentives for the wind industry. Combined, the two efforts are expected to generate $36.6 million in revenue.

Oklahoma lawmakers are staring into a budget hole that's nearly $900 million deep — and they might not be able to cut their way out of it. Legislators are considering tax increases to help fund state government, and one idea is gaining traction: hiking taxes on gasoline and diesel.

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