Joe Wertz

Reporter for StateImpact Oklahoma

Joe has previously served as Managing Editor of Urban Tulsa Weekly, as the Arts & Entertainment Editor at Oklahoma Gazette and worked as a Staff Writer for The Oklahoman. Joe was a weekly correspondent for KGOU from 2007-2010. He grew up in Bartlesville, Okla., lives in Oklahoma City, and studied journalism at the University of Central Oklahoma.

Ways To Connect

seismic readout
Great Beyond / Flickr

The Oklahoma Geological Survey on April 21 acknowledged Oklahoma’s ongoing earthquake surge is “very likely” triggered by wastewater disposal wells used by the oil and gas industry, a formal recognition that comes after years of scientific research that reached similar conclusions.

Disposal wells used by the oil and gas industry are ‘very likely’ responsible for the recent surge of earthquakes in Oklahoma, the state seismologist at the Oklahoma Geological Survey said Tuesday.

Dust Bowl survivor Pauline Hodges traveled to the Oklahoma Capitol to speak at an event commemorating the 80th anniversary of the "Black Sunday" dust storm.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

On April 14, 1935, a rolling mountain of dust and sand swept through Oklahoma, choked out the sun and filled homes with dirt piles so high residents had to clean their homes with shovels.

It was a beautiful, sunny afternoon near the town of Forgan in Oklahoma’s Panhandle. Pauline Hodges was five at the time. She and her mother were visiting a neighbor when her friend’s father ran up to the backdoor.

The Blue Canyon wind farm near Carnegie, Okla.
Joe Wertz / KGOU

State legislators and wind industry representatives are close to a deal that would end two tax incentives and preserve a third, The Oklahoman‘s Paul Monies reports:

Under the tentative agreement, a five-year property tax exemption for new wind farms would end after 2016, but a zero-emissions tax credit would remain in place. Another incentive that isn’t used much by wind developers, the investment tax credit, would end Jan. 1, 2017.

Continental Resources CEO Harold Hamm at the 2012 Time 100 gala.
David Shankbone / Flickr

The November 2013 meeting with University of Oklahoma President David Boren wasn’t oil billionaire Harold Hamm’s first attempt to discuss with university officials and a state seismologists Oklahoma’s earthquake surge and possible links to oil and gas activity, a new EnergyWire story reveals.

Bob Kerr on his ranch near Carnegie, Okla., which is flanked by turbines from the Blue Canyon Wind Farm.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Lawmakers have filed several measures targeting Oklahoma’s wind industry during the 2015 legislative session. The bills most likely to end up on the governor’s desk add regulation — like preventing new wind farms from being built near hospitals, schools and airports — and reduce wind energy tax credits.

Bob Kerr has lived on his Caddo County ranch for 43 years. The nearest tow, Carnegie, is home to about 1,700 people — a sprawling metropolis in southwestern Oklahoma

Workers with Shebester-Bechtel at an American Energy Woodford rig site in Payne County, Okla.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Tax revenues from oil and natural gas production in March dropped to their lowest level since September 2002, a collapse that’s driving a slide in total revenues used to fund state government, new data show.

Officials in at least two cities have publicly questioned bills filed during the 2015 legislative session that would limit the local governments’ authority to regulate oil and gas activity.

The bills’ authors say the measures are meant to prevent towns, cities and counties from banning or effectively banning oil and gas drilling and related production activities, like hydraulic fracturing. Officials in Norman and Stillwater, for their part, say the legislation is an overreach that could limit their ability to write ordinances to protect the health and safety of local residents.

windmills
mtneer_man / Flickr

Legislation adding siting restrictions and reporting requirements to new wind energy developments passed a House committee Tuesday.

Senate Bill 808 is now the primary wind regulation bill for the 2015 legislative session, replacing the similarly worded House Bill 1549, Rep. Earl Sears, R-Bartlesville, tells The Oklahoman‘s Paul Monies:

Austin Holland with the Oklahoma Geological Survey, seated in the center, at a capitol hearing on Oklahoma's earthquake surge.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

In November 2013, Oklahoma state seismologist Austin Holland was called into a meeting with University of Oklahoma President David Boren and Continental Resources Chairman and oil billionaire Harold Hamm, EnergyWire’s Mike Sorgahan reported earlier this month.

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