State Capitol
7:32 am
Wed January 8, 2014

Fallin Issues Order To Ease Oklahoma Propane Shortage

Credit Erin Stevenson O'Connor / Flickr Creative Commons

Gov. Mary Fallin has issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency to deal with a dwindling supply of propane in Oklahoma.

The order issued on Tuesday waives certain licensing requirements and other restrictions for those transporting propane in the state.

The brutally cold polar air that has descended across the United States has led to a spike in demand for propane, which an estimated 400,000 residents use to heat their homes, especially in rural areas.

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The Two-Way
5:52 am
Wed January 8, 2014

Death Toll From Deep Freeze Tops 20; Warm-Up Is Coming

A man walks through a steam cloud in frigid cold temperatures Tuesday in Manhattan.
Brendan McDermid Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Wed January 8, 2014 9:58 am

The deaths of at least 21 people are now being blamed on the winter storms and severe cold weather that have gripped much of the nation since late last week, The Associated Press reported early Wednesday.

At least half have been attributed to weather-related traffic accidents. The wire service adds that:

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Sold At Convenience Stores Or Head Shops
6:38 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

Bill Designed To Widen Ban On Synthetic Drugs

Credit Living My Worst Nightmare / Flickr.com

A state legislator from eastern Oklahoma is seeking to widen a ban on synthetic drugs by adding language from a law in neighboring Arkansas.

Sallisaw Republican Rep. John Bennett said in a press release Tuesday he introduced the bill after joining a local sheriff from his district in a joint law enforcement operation with officers from Arkansas.

Bennett says people from Arkansas were buying the drugs in Oklahoma and bringing them back home. His bill would broaden the range of banned synthetic drugs, which state drug agents say continue to be a major problem in Oklahoma.

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Special Needs Teen Died From Abuse
6:18 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

Oklahoma's DHS Under Fire Again

Credit Department of Human Services

A woman who says her special needs brother died from abuse is calling for an investigation into Oklahoma's child welfare services.

Valerie Wood-Harber presented an electronic petition with 460,000 signatures to Gov. Mary Fallin's office Tuesday. Wood-Harber is calling for an investigation into the agency after she made 22 unanswered calls in a span of weeks to report alleged abuse of her brother. Fifteen-year-old Quinten Wood later died of pneumonia.

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Oil Production Tax
2:31 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

Miller: Willingness Exists To Look At Overall Oil

State Treasurer Ken Miller says he believes state officials and those in the energy industry are willing to consider a change in the way oil production is taxed.

Miller’s remarks came just a few days after House Speaker T.W. Shannon announced he will introduce legislation to make permanent the 1 percent tax on horizontal drilling.

“I think there is some willingness to look at changing the overall (gross production-oil) tax code and just lowering the rate on all the production and incentivizing the norm,” Miller said .

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World Views
1:32 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

Exploring Large-Scale Human Influence On Landscape And Ecology

Erle Ellis investigated nitrogen cycling across an entire village in China under pre-industrial, nitrogen-limiting conditions relative to the nitrogen-saturated conditions of 1994 to assess the role of nitrogen cycling in sustainable agricultural management.
Credit Erle Ellis

Listen to Suzette Grillot's conversation with Erle Ellis.

Over the last three decades, certain environmental scientists have started characterizing a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene, to mark the moment when humans started profoundly affecting ecological landscapes.

University of Maryland, Baltimore County ecologist Erle Ellis studies how agriculture, hunting, settlements, and other human activity have changed landscapes. He estimates three-quarters of earth’s land could be characterized as anthropogenic. But even as humans influence their environment, the mass influx of residents into urban centers can reverse that process.

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The Two-Way
12:53 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

Senate Votes To Move Ahead On Extending Unemployment Benefits

President Obama listens as Katherine Hackett of Moodus, Conn., speaks during an event in the East Room of the White House in Washington, on Tuesday.
Susan Walsh AP

Originally published on Tue January 7, 2014 12:25 pm

This post was updated at 12:00 p.m. ET.

A three-month extension of federal unemployment benefits for 1.3 million jobless Americans won a key procedural vote in the Senate on Tuesday.

The 60-37 vote indicates there's enough Republican support to move the Emergency Unemployment Compensation, which expired on Dec. 28, forward to a full vote. As The Associated Press writes, the measure "is the leading edge of a Democratic program that also includes raising the minimum wage and closing tax loopholes on the wealthy and corporations."

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Energy
12:02 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

OKC-Based SandRidge Sells Gulf Of Mexico Assets

SandRidge rig drilling for oil near Alva, Oklahoma in the Mississippi Oil Play.
Credit Provided / SandRidge Energy

SandRidge Energy is selling all of its holdings in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Oklahoma City-based oil and natural gas company announced early Tuesday morning Fieldwood Energy will pay $750 million in cash and assume $370 million in abandonment liabilities for its Gulf and coastal properties.

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Transportation
10:59 am
Tue January 7, 2014

ODOT No Longer Concerned With Decreasing Trust Fund

Oklahoma Department of Transportation officials said Monday they will set aside plans created over the holiday break about how to handle projects or lettings in 2014, after the mid-December budget deal approved by Congress generated some funds for states.

The new budget calls for $9.6 billion to be infused into the Federal Highway Trust Fund, which reimburses ODOT for eligible projects.

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Congress
9:38 am
Tue January 7, 2014

VIDEO: Coburn On Emergency Unemployment Insurance

Senate Democrats are scratching for votes to pass a White House-backed bill that would renew unemployment benefits that lapsed last month for the long-term jobless.

Speaking on Fox & Friends Tuesday morning, U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) says states that have cut the benefits back have lowered their unemployment rate and increased job formation.

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