Joe Wertz

Digital 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.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
9:07 am
Thu May 29, 2014

Wind Projects In Osage County Dividing ‘Neighbors And Families’

Turbine nacelles for a wind farm project are collecting at a staging area in Osage County.
Credit Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Wind-energy companies have high hopes for Osage County. It’s windy, of course, but unlike other windy areas of western Oklahoma, Osage County is a lot closer tothe heavy-duty electrical infrastructure needed to transport power from turbines to the grid.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
7:34 pm
Wed May 28, 2014

Gov. Mary Fallin Signs Controversial Tax Incentive For New Oil And Gas Wells

Credit Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Gov. Mary Fallin on Wednesday signed a bill that makes permanent a generous tax incentive for new oil and gas drilling.

The controversial measure, House Bill 2562, was forged as lawmakers and energy company executives debated the appropriate tax rate for the industry, which drives much of the state’s economy. Oil and gas groups lobbied hard for the bill, as did executives from three of the state’s largest oil and gas companies, who argued the incentive would help Oklahoma compete with other states for drilling.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
11:57 am
Fri May 23, 2014

Oklahoma Legislature Passes Controversial Tax Incentive For New Oil And Gas Wells

Credit Joseph Novak / Flickr Creative Commons

The Oklahoma Legislature on Thursday approved a bill that makes permanent a generous tax incentive for oil and gas production.

The votes followed a heated debate at the Capitol, and months of disagreement between lawmakers, industry lobbyists and energy executives, which are divided on the measure.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
12:35 pm
Thu May 22, 2014

Oklahoma’s Drought-Withered Wheat Harvest Could Have National Effects

Brothers and business partners Fred and Wayne Schmedt stand in their family's wheat field near Altus in southwest Oklahoma.
Joe Wertz StateImpact Oklahoma

Four years of extreme drought has withered the agricultural economies of southern Great Plains states like Oklahoma, where farmers are bracing for one of worst wheat crops in state history.

And Oklahoma’s withered wheat harvest could have national consequences.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
11:43 am
Thu May 15, 2014

Drought And Passive Landowners Add Fuel To Oklahoma’s Burning Red Cedar Problem

Billy Hays in the cab of a Bobcat, which Oklahoma County modified to cut and shred Eastern Red Cedars.
Joe Wertz StateImpact Oklahoma

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 eliminating the tree is complicated by the passive attitude of many landowners, and a state forestry service with little authority.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
1:11 pm
Wed May 14, 2014

Environmental Groups Ask EPA To Regulate Air Pollution From Oil And Gas Wells

An oil well near a neighborhood in Yukon, Okla.
Becky McCray Flickr Creative Commons

An alliance of national and state environmental groups on Tuesday asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to set air pollution limits on oil and gas wells and production equipment.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
7:11 am
Mon May 12, 2014

Public Forum Questions Reveal Concern About Climate Change in Oklahoma

People waiting to ask questions at StateImpact's public forum on how climate change is affecting Oklahoma.
Joe Wertz StateImpact Oklahoma

Last week, we hosted a public forum on how climate change affects Oklahoma. A panel of experts took audience questions on water and agriculture, and if the discussion is any guide, Oklahomans are curious, frustrated and concerned about climate change.

The Picasso Café in Oklahoma City was standing room only. One by one, audience members took the microphone and posed questions to our panelists: Clay Pope, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts, and Dr. David Engle, Director of Oklahoma State University’s Water Resources Center.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
1:12 pm
Thu May 8, 2014

Drier, Hotter, More Extreme Weather: How Climate Change Is Already Affecting Oklahoma

A supercell near Courtney, Okla., in April 2014.
Kelly DeLay Flickr Creative Commons

A new federal report bluntly warns that every region of the United States is already observing climate change-related affects to the environment and economy.

In Oklahoma and other Great Plains states, climate change from carbon emissions is changing crop growth cycles, increasing energy and water demand, altering rainfall patterns and leading to more frequent extreme weather and climate events, the report concludes.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
8:34 pm
Mon May 5, 2014

Federal And State Agencies Warn Of Earthquake Risk In Oklahoma

A pump jack near Kingfisher, Okla.
Credit KATSRCOOL / FLICKR

Federal and state seismologists on Monday issued a rare earthquake warning for central and north-central Oklahoma.

The state’s earthquake rate has increased 50 percent since October 2013, according to the joint warning by the U.S. Geological Survey and Oklahoma Geological Survey. A likely contributing factor is waste fluid from disposal wells used by the oil and gas industry, a link federal and university seismologists have made in several peer-reviewed studies.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
2:53 pm
Mon May 5, 2014

Three Of Oklahoma’s Largest Oil Companies’ Plan For How The State Should Tax Them

Credit neillharmer / Flickr Creative Commons

Executives at Chesapeake Energy, Continental Resources and Devon Energy have proposed a plan for Oklahoma’s taxes on oil and natural gas production.

The proposal comes as legislators are debating state oil and gas taxes, which include an incentive for horizontal drilling that expires next year. The Oklahoman‘sAdam Wilmoth reports:

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