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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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.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

A cornerstone of President Trump’s campaign and presidency is a $1 trillion proposal to rebuild U.S. infrastructure. The promise is a popular one, and could find bipartisan support across the country and in Congress. The infrastructure needs in Oklahoma illustrate why this issue is so appealing — and challenging.

Oil's Pipeline to America's Schools

Jun 16, 2017
ILLUSTRATION BY EBEN MCCUE

Jennifer Merritt’s first-graders at Jefferson Elementary School in Pryor, Oklahoma, were in for a treat. Sitting cross-legged on the floor, the students gathered in late November for story time with two special guests, state Rep. Tom Gann and state Sen. Marty Quinn.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma lawmakers have struggled for months to agree on a formula to patch a nearly $900 million budget hole and sign off on a plan that funds state agencies. To help pay for the budget plan, lawmakers are considering ways to squeeze more from taxes on oil and gas production, an option that has divided politicians and one of the state’s biggest industries.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Lawmakers got their first peek at Oklahoma’s budget last night in a haphazard midnight session senior legislators described as the most disjointed in their career.

House and Senate committee members had mere minutes to review the proposed $6.9 billion dollar budget before voting on two versions of the state spending plan.

The bills are nearly identical. One would give teachers a $1,000 pay raise. Both deliver funding cuts for most state agencies. Sixteen agencies, including the Departments of Education and Transportation, are in line for flat budgets.

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Shortly after taking over as head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt started a roll-back of Obama-era environmental regulations, an effort that has provided big benefits to one of his home state’s largest independent oil and gas companies, the New York Times reports.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Speaking at a media event atop an interstate overpass construction site in Norman, U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe told a small crowd Friday that President Donald Trump is serious about a proposed $1 trillion national infrastructure plan.

The Republican is chair of a Senate subcommittee that oversees such programs and he said Oklahoma stands to benefit from a new focus for federal funding.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

A former accountant and compliance officer for the Oklahoma Beef Council faces federal bank fraud and false tax return charges after an probe into suspected embezzlement of more than $2.6 million.

The Beef Council, which is funded by a mandatory $1-per-head “check-off” fee paid every time ranchers and producers sell an animal, filed a civil lawsuit in October 2016 against the former employee, Melissa Morton.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma oil executives have argued for years over a new law that would let companies drill and frack longer horizontal wells in new areas.

Right now, companies with leases in non-shale rock formations can’t drill horizontal wells more than a mile long. This one-mile limit is frustrating many of the most active drillers in Oklahoma who say companies, shareholders, mineral owners and the state’s tax coffers are missing out on millions in new development from booming oil fields. The potential is a promising political incentive, given the state’s nearly $900 million budget hole.

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