Oklahoma has been rattled by a surge of earthquakes, which many scientists say is likely linked to oil and gas drilling. On Thursday night, residents packed a contentious town hall meeting to demand answers from public officials. Joe Wertz from StateImpact Oklahoma reports.
There was booing and shouts for regulators to impose a moratorium on the oil and gas disposal wells. Local resident Ester D. Blaine said she had to take all the pictures off her walls. She says citizens and scientists don’t stand a chance against Oklahoma’s oil and gas industry.
When the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last week proposed new rules to cut carbon emissions by 30 percent, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt — predictably — blasted the plan as another example of federal overreach in the Obama Administration’s war on fossil fuels.
From the start of the legislative session on February 3rd, StateImpact Oklahoma had its eye on what was sure to be a heated issue: the coming expiration of a tax credit for horizontally drilled oil and gas wells. Without action, rates would go from one-percent for the first four years of a well’s life, back to 7 percent.
The eastern red cedar tree causes allergies, crowds out other species, guzzles water, and fuels Oklahoma’s most devastating wildfires, including one near Guthrie last week. And lengthy drought has intensified the problem. But as StateImpact’s Logan Layden reports, eliminating the tree is complicated by the passive attitude of many landowners, and a state forestry service with little authority.
A federal report released this week bluntly warns that climate change is already having an environmental and economic affect in every region of the United States. As StateImpact’s Joe Wertz reports, the magnitude of the effects is expected to increase in Oklahoma.
For the past three decades, Oklahoma averaged about 50 earthquakes a year. But that number has skyrocketed in the past few years. In 2013 — the state's most seismically active year ever — there were almost 3,000.
The quakes are small, and they're concentrated in the central part of the state, where the Erwins live.
In the 1930s, the Dust Bowl ravaged crops and helped plunge the U.S. into an environmental and economic depression. Farmland in parts of Texas, Kansas, Nebraska and the Dakotas disappeared.
After the howling winds passed and the dust settled, federal foresters planted 100 million trees across the Great Plains, forming a giant windbreak — known as a shelterbelt — that stretched from Texas to Canada.
Now, those trees are dying from drought, leaving some to worry whether another Dust Bowl might swirl up again.