StateImpact Oklahoma

StateImpact Oklahoma
12:23 pm
Thu October 30, 2014

Hearing on Disposal Well Rules Exposes Gaps in State’s Earthquake Response

Rep. Cory Williams, D-Stillwater, questions Secretary of Energy and Environment Michael Teague at an interim study and hearing about earthquakes and disposal well oversight held in October 2014.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma’s earthquake surge is unrelenting. The shaking is rattling residents and cracking the foundations of homes.

The quakes have also strained state agencies, which are struggling to keep up with the ongoing swarm while simultaneously developing a longer-term plan to analyze and address factors that might be triggering the earthquakes.


Read more
StateImpact Oklahoma
2:37 pm
Thu October 23, 2014

Eastern Oklahoma Coal Mining Comeback Stalls as Demand From China Falls

Steel Plant, Anshan, Liaoning, China, February 2009.
Sonya Song / Flickr

In May of last year, it looked like impoverished areas of eastern Oklahoma would be getting a lifeline. Coal mining, once a vital industry there, appeared to be headed for a comeback thanks to booming international demand.

Local residents were excited about the prospect of hundreds of new jobs when StateImpact first visited Heavener, but the mining project has stalled.

Ouro Mining Company’s massive Heavener Project along the Oklahoma-Arkansas border was supposed to be producing coal — and jobs — by now. In April 2013, locals in Heavener, like waitress Leslea Absire, couldn’t wait.

Read more
StateImpact Oklahoma
12:39 pm
Thu October 16, 2014

Rumbles of New Scrutiny as Quakes Continue to Surge in Oklahoma

Gov. Mary Fallin and Michael Teague, Secretary of Energy and Environment, talk to reporters at the Governor's Energy Conference in 2014.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma’s earthquake surge and possible links to oil and gas activity have been studied in scientific papers, discussed at heated town-hall meetings and explored regulatory hearings.

The quakes are now triggering some rumblings at the state Capitol.

About 4,000 earthquakes have shaken Oklahoma this year, data from the Oklahoma Geological Survey show. Most of the quakes have been small — roughly 10 percent were 3.0-magnitude or greater, the threshold at which seismologists say the temblors are likely perceivable.

Read more
StateImpact Oklahoma
10:55 am
Thu October 9, 2014

How a Wind Farm is Helping Save the Family Farm in Western Oklahoma

Monte Tucker, left, stands with his son and dad on the family's farm near Sweetwater, Okla.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

In the ongoing debate about Oklahoma’s wind industry and whether it needs stricter regulation, two types of property owners have been the most vocal: those who hate the idea of turbines next door, and those eager to lease land to a wind company.

But there’s a voice that’s been largely absent from the discussion so far: Landowners who have wind farms and like them.

Family, Factory

For four generations, Monte Tucker’s family has been squeezing life out of the land. Dead tree stumps become renewable winter energy sources. And if you have an excited 3-year-old boy with a hatchet, like Tucker’s son Reid, the labor to harvest that energy comes with zero cost.

“For some reason, he’s just been obsessed with chopping firewood lately,” Tucker says as he watches his son drag a stump onto the gravel driveway of the family’s home.

Read more
StateImpact Oklahoma
7:53 am
Thu October 2, 2014

Uncertainty Looms Over Walnut Creek’s Somber Final Weekend As A State Park

Harold and Amy Coulter with their granddaughter at Walnut Creek State Park in August 2014.
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Walnut Creek State Park closed indefinitely last weekend, the latest in a series of park closures that started in 2011, and a victim of budget priorities and changing attitudes at the department of tourism. StateImpact traveled to the banks of Keystone Lake to visit with some of Walnut Creek’s last campers as a state park, and the people whose livelihoods are now in danger.

Read more
StateImpact Oklahoma
9:16 am
Thu September 25, 2014

Confusion Fueling Oklahoma Outcry Over EPA’s ‘Waters of the United States’ Rule

Mason Bolay climbs into the cab of a tractor on his family's farm near Perry, Okla.
Logan Layden StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma Congressman Jim Bridenstine calls it a power grab by an imperial president. U.S. Representative Frank Lucas says it would trigger an onslaught of additional red tape for famers and ranchers in Oklahoma. That kind of hyperbole is expected anytime President Barack Obama’s EPA does, well, anything. But the changes being proposed to the way bodies of water are classified are confusing.

The so-called ‘Waters of the United States’ designation is the federal government’s attempt to define which bodies of water qualify for protection under the Clean Water Act. The EPA is trying to tweak that definition. And it’s got farmers like Mason Bolay worried.

Read more
StateImpact Oklahoma
9:00 am
Thu September 18, 2014

Oklahoma Oil and Gas Regulator Wrestles With Oversight of Wind Industry

Wind turbines line the horizon near Kingfisher, Okla.
MTNEER_MAN / FLICKR

Corporation Commission meetings are usually pretty dull, but the Sept. 11 technical conference on wind energy was standing room only. It was lively — and theatrical.

When Tammy Huffstutlar of Calumet took her turn at the microphone, she cued up recordings of whirring wind turbines to accompany her testimony.

“I don’t know if you can hear this or not, but this is my life,” she told Corporation Commissioners Dana Murphy and Bob Anthony, who presided over the meeting. “That’s why I’m here talking about property rights and regulation.”

Read more
Dealing with Water Shortage
9:32 am
Thu September 11, 2014

Drought Stricken Southwest Oklahoma Towns Look For More Water Underground

After four years of drought, municipal water storage in in Altus-Lugert lake has dropped to about 10 percent.
Joe Wertz StateImpact Oklahoma

Water supplies in southwest Oklahoma are in danger of drying up as four years of drought drag lake levels to record lows. Some communities are scrambling to supplement their current water sources, while others look for new sources — in Texas.

Estimates say Duncan’s main water source — Lake Waurika — could be too low to use by 2016.


Read more
StateImpact Oklahoma
8:00 pm
Wed September 10, 2014

Along the Watershed: The History and Future of Oklahoma's Scenic Rivers

There are more than 78,000 miles of rivers and streams in Oklahoma. But 200 of those miles are unique — Oklahoma’s scenic rivers. They are some of the state’s most environmentally sensitive waterways, and the state grants them special protections.

StateImpact reporters Logan Layden and Joe Wertz spent a month exploring the rivers for a documentary about the rivers' history and the environmental threats they face.

StateImpact Oklahoma
5:56 pm
Thu September 4, 2014

Oil, Drought and Earthquakes Discussed at Governor’s Energy Conference

Col. Michael Teague, Secretary of Energy and Environment, and Governor Mary Fallin speak at the Governor's Energy Conference on Thursday afternoon.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Politicians, agency leaders and energy industry executives gathered in Oklahoma City Thursday for the Governor’s Energy Conference. The annual event is largely promotional, but as Joe Wertz from StateImpact reports, it also serves as a preview of the biggest energy policy topics for the coming year.

Read more

Pages