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.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma legislators are under pressure to fund teacher raises and pay for health insurance coverage, workers comp, criminal justice initiatives and state prisons from a pool of money that could be $600 million short of what’s needed.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Attorneys are asking a judge in Pawnee County to approve a class-action lawsuit against oil and gas companies after the 5.8-magnitude earthquake that shook the area in September.

The action was brought on behalf of Pawnee resident James Adams. If a judge approves, other residents could join the lawsuit against oil and gas companies operating wastewater disposal wells in the area.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma voters on Tuesday soundly rejected State Question 777, a ballot measure that would have made farming and ranching a state constitutional right. The final tally was roughly 60 percent against and 40 percent in favor of the amendment — a difference of more than 290,000 votes.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The magnitude-5.0 earthquake that struck near Cushing on Sunday caused one minor injury and damaged about 50 buildings. The shaking forced authorities to evacuate an assisted living center and left piles of rubble and broken glass on the streets.

Emergency crews worked through the night to secure buildings and survey destruction after the quake, which knocked out power and sheared brick facades off century-old buildings. 

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

When Oklahoma voters go to the polls next week, they’ll decide on State Question 777, known by supporters as the right-to-farm amendment. The measure would make farming and ranching a constitutional right and make it harder for the Legislature to enact laws that further regulate the agriculture industry.

American Geophysical Union

Wastewater injection into clusters of high-rate disposal wells likely triggered a 5.1-magnitude earthquake that struck western Oklahoma in February 2016, new research suggests.

Ben Allen / KOSU

Support for State Question 777, which would make farming and ranching a constitutional right in Oklahoma, has slipped in recent weeks, according to a SoonerPoll survey commissioned byThe Oklahoman.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

State Question 777 would create a constitutional right to farm and ranch in Oklahoma, giving the agriculture industry unique protection from the state legislature. The ballot question concerns livestock and crops, but legal experts say the statewide measure will likely come down to lawsuits and courts.

In the weeks leading up to the November election, officials in cities and towns across the state have urged Oklahomans to vote no on SQ 777.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Officials with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency say Oklahoma oil and gas regulators should “consider a moratorium” of waste-fluid disposal in its most seismically active areas.

The suggestion was made in the federal agency’s annual review of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission’s oversight of disposal wells, which Energy Wire’s Mike Soraghan obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request:

Another earthquake shook Oklahoma today. It measured 3.1 on the Richter scale, and struck just after 7 a.m. near Stroud, 65 miles from Oklahoma City.

That’s one of more than 500 this year, compared to California’s 156. Scientists have linked Oklahoma’s sharp increase in earthquakes in recent years to the underground injection of wastewater during oil and gas production.

Here & Now‘s Robin Young checks in with Joe Wertz, KGOU’s StateImpact reporter, about Oklahoma’s earthquake trends.

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