Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The Dewey County Courthouse is one of the newest in Oklahoma. The offices are spacious, and the courtroom has fresh carpet and shiny wood trim. County Commissioner M.W. “Junior” Salisbury is excited to play tour leader.

“I’m pretty proud of our little courthouse here,” he says. “I really, really am.”

Officials figured they would need 25 years to pay it off, but it took less than five. One major reason: wind farms.


Oklahoma oil and gas regulators are expanding rules designed to reduce earthquake activity triggered by fracking. Updated guidelines released Tuesday by the Oklahoma Corporation put new requirements on companies operating in two of the state’s most booming oil fields.


In the height of ski season this year, blades of grass and patches of dirt still dot cross country ski trails in Aspen, Colo. Conditions like this present a conundrum for professional skiers: Their livelihood relies on snow and cold temperatures, but essentials like travel and snow-making come with an environmental cost.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Environmental groups and concerned residents this week told federal officials the Oklahoma agency charged with protecting air, land and water lacked the resources and rules to manage a state-run plan to regulate coal ash.

If you live in a part of the country with chilly winters, you’re probably well-acquainted with road salt. It keeps us safer when there’s snow and ice on streets and sidewalks, but it also corrodes our cars and hurts pets’ feet. Now, scientists and transportation officials are beginning to recognize the damage road salt can have on the environment and, potentially, on human health.

Jacob Fenston (@JacobFenston) of WAMU has more.

In 2015, the top toxicologist for the state of Texas, Michael Honeycutt, was interviewed on Houston Public Radio. At the time, the Environmental Protection Agency was pushing for tighter limits on ozone, a type of air pollution that is hazardous for people with asthma and other respiratory diseases.

On the 40th floor of a new Denver skyscraper, overseeing workers in hard hats and orange vests, construction manager Michael Bjes touts some of the measures that will make this building energy efficient: Energy Star appliances, LED lights, "water efficient toilet fixtures throughout the entire building."

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma experienced a dramatic drop in earthquakes in 2017 — a decline likely due, in part, to regulations limiting activity at oil-field disposal wells, scientists and experts say. New research suggests those regulations might be reducing some quakes more than others.

It’s been two years since state oil and gas regulators adopted a broad regional plan that limits the amount of wastewater pumped into disposal wells in quake-prone areas. The good news: It appears to be working. After peaking in 2015, earthquakes became a lot less frequent.

The Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association on Wednesday filed two separate state Supreme Court challenges to a proposed state question that would ask voters to end industry discounts and impose a broad 7 percent tax on oil and gas production to fund teacher pay raises and early childhood education.

Nearly 70 people live on a sliver of land wedged between Interstate 82 and Rattlesnake Ridge in central Washington state. A massive chunk of the ridge is moving, and cracking, and geologists say it will likely cause a landslide.