Former Chesapeake Energy employees leave the building with their belongings after the Sept. 29, 2015 buyouts.
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

Layoffs, Mergers, And Stock Scares In A Volatile Week For Oklahoma's Energy Industry

It's been a rocky five days for Oklahoma's energy sector, with downsizing, buyouts, and even a possible de-listing from the New York Stock Exchange. On Tuesday Chesapeake Energy announced its second round of mass layoffs in two years, letting go a total of 740 employees, including 562 at the Oklahoma City campus. That figure represents nearly 20 percent of the workforce at the intersection of NW 63rd Street and Western Ave. The company is a significant driver of Oklahoma City's economy. "I...
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Nitrogen and phosphorous runoff from corn fields polluted many waterways in the Midwest.
David Staedtler / Flickr

Farmers make a living by raising and selling crops. But what if they could also earn money by taking steps to improve water quality? That’s the idea behind a government effort to create markets for clean water.

It’s an example of an environmental market -- making the land do more than just grow corn or soybeans. It can also sequester carbon, filter pollutants out of water, and give wildlife a place to live. These markets are becoming a more common way for state and federal regulators to approach pollution controls from utilities, industry, and agriculture.

a school classroom with empty chairs
comedy_nose / Flickr Creative Commons

For the third year in a row, Oklahoma will not give a standardized writing test next spring that counts toward a student’s score or a school’s letter grade.

That means the state is paying a vendor at least tens of thousands of dollars for a test that yields no results.

An Aug. 24 bulletin from the state Department of Education addressed to school district test coordinators says the writing exam will only be a field test, which is used to create test questions for the following school year.

Ambassador Seyed Hossein Mousavian
Chatham House / flickr

Ambassador Hossein Mousavian has been a key diplomat for Iran for the past quarter century. He represented the Islamic Republic in Germany from 1990 to 1997, and then took a post as the head of the Iranian National Security Council’s Foreign Relations Committee until 2005, where he served as the country’s chief spokesman during nuclear negotiations with the European Union a decade ago.

Former Lt. Governor, Jari Askins

Former Democratic state legislator, special judge and Lt. Gov. Jari Askins has been hired to oversee Oklahoma's court system.

Oklahoma Supreme Court Chief Justice John Reif announced Askins' hiring on Friday as the state's administrative director of the courts, effective Oct. 1.

Reif says Askins' hiring was a "conference decision" in which all nine justices participated. She will replace longtime administrator Michael Evans, who is retiring.

Reif says Askins will earn the same as a judge on the Court of Civil Appeals, or $138,235.

Gov. Mary Fallin presents President and CEO Brad McMullan a plaque from the Oklahoma Department of Commerce during Friday's announcement.
Brian Hardzinski / KGOU

A national technology firm plans to open a facility in Norman that will bring hundreds of jobs to the state.

The business texting firm is opening its Mobile App Development and Operations Center on the University of Oklahoma's Research Campus, just a few hundred yards north of the National Weather Center.

Gov. Mary Fallin said the company’s CEO Brad McMullan told her he wants technology to be as valuable to Oklahoma’s economy as oil and gas.

The bananas on the right will likely get dumped into the compost pile because most consumers, like those at this Kansas grocery store, prefer to buy pristine produce.
Kristofor Husted / Harvest Public Media

The Obama administration is challenging America to reduce food waste by half in 15 years.

In an announcement Wednesday, officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency said they would team up with food retailers, charity groups and local governments to meet that goal. 

(Read the NPR story here.)

Since a Snapchat video of University of Oklahoma football player Eric Striker's response to Sigma Alpha Epsilon's racist chant went viral, ESPN interviewed more than 40 players from 15 programs across the country and surveyed another 99 players anonymously about their reaction to Striker and their own encounters with racism and profiling. Many players applauded Striker for speaking out and were eager to share their own opinions and experiences that mirror his at Oklahoma.

prison bars
mikecogh / Flickr Creative Commons

The head of an Oklahoma prison workers group says the stabbing deaths of four white inmates at a private prison in Cushing were the result of violence between two white prison gangs that also spilled over into other state prisons.

Several Oklahoma farmers wander through a field of broad-leafed cover crops during a state Conservation Commission workshop in Dewey County in western Oklahoma.
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Generations of tilling and planting on the same land have left Oklahoma’s soil in poor shape. And if farmers don’t change the way they grow crops, feeding the future won’t be easy. As Slapout, Okla., farmer Jordan Shearer puts it: “We’re creating a desert environment by plowing the damn ground.”

Taking A Toll

Oklahoma state flag
J Stephen Conn /

The U.S. Department of Justice has awarded more than $12.5 million to 13 Oklahoma tribes to improve public safety and programs for crime victims.

They grants are among 206 national awards totaling more than $97 million announced Wednesday for American Indian tribes, Alaska Native villages, tribal consortia and tribal designees.