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
3:57 pm
Wed February 5, 2014

How Oklahoma’s Grassland Will Help U.S. Farmers And Foresters React To Climate Change

In an experimental pasture at the Grazinglands Research Laboratory near El Reno, Okla., ecologist Brian Northup collects samples to describe availability and quality of forage.
Credit Stephen Ausmus / U.S. Department of Agriculture

The federal government will use a grassland laboratory near El Reno to research the regional effects of climate change for U.S. farmers, ranchers and foresters, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Wednesday.

The Grazinglands Research Laboratory was picked to be one of the country’s seven “climate hubs,” where federal and state agencies, university scientists and other researchers will generate data to help landowners “adapt and adjust their resource management,” federal officials said in a statement.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
2:25 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

Wind Energy Construction Boom Fueled By Threat Of Expiring Federal Tax Credit

Windmills near Weatherford, Okla.
Credit Wesley Fryer / Flickr Creative Commons

The looming Dec. 31 expiration of the federal production tax credit for renewable energy helped drive a last-minute rush to start construction on wind energy projects around the country and in Oklahoma.

Developers had to start construction by 2013 to qualify, The Oklahoman‘s Paul Monies reports, “but the wind industry fears another bust if the credit isn’t renewed.”

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State Of The State
4:35 pm
Mon February 3, 2014

Fallin Proposes Income Tax Cut, Discusses Education In Annual Address

Gov. Mary Fallin delivers the 2014 State of the State address as Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb and House Speaker T.W. Shannon (R-Lawton) look on.
Credit Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Gov. Mary Fallin is proposing a .25 percent reduction in Oklahoma's income tax rate.

Fallin made the proposal Monday while delivering her State of the State address at the start of the 2014 Oklahoma Legislature.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
8:29 am
Thu January 30, 2014

The Legacy And Challenges Of A State Question That Shapes Bills Decades Later

Credit LLudo / Flickr Creative Commons

When the 2014 legislative session starts Feb. 3, state lawmakers will face more than 2,000 bills and resolutions, and are expected to have $170 million less to spend than last year. They will also be confronted by agency heads, most of which will argue, publicly, for more money.

Many of the bills under consideration this year address revenue and spending, directly. Republican measures to cut the income tax, for example, or gross production taxes on oil and gas activity the energy industry would like to reduce.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
4:07 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

West Virginia Chemical Spill Prompts Oklahoma Officials To Examine Storage Locations

Freedom Industries storage tanks along the Elk River in West Virginia.
Credit WVUMC / Flickr Creative Commons

The West Virginia chemical spill that left 300,000 residents without water has spurred Oklahoma environmental regulators to examine chemical storage locations.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
11:22 am
Thu January 23, 2014

With Keystone Pipeline Online, Analysts Expect it To Help Bust Oklahoma’s Oil Glut

A worker inspects a segment of the Keystone Pipeline before it's lowered into a trench near Stroud, Okla.
Credit Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The Obama administration still hasn’t decided whether to move forward with the northern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline, which has been stuck in environmental impact study limbo for almost two years.

But the southernmost section of the controversial pipeline, which put Oklahoma in the middle of a debate about energy, environment and economics, is now operational.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
6:29 am
Thu January 23, 2014

Earthquakes No Danger To Cushing Oil Hub, Energy Officials Say

A crude oil tank farm in Cushing, Okla.
Credit Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The Cushing oil hub is crowded with hulking oil tanks, miles of pipeline and countless pumps, compressors and other equipment used to ferry around the roughly 80 million barrels of crude stored there.

Oklahoma has experienced a swarm of earthquakes, which seismologists say might be triggered by disposal wells used by the oil and gas industry, and it’s not hard to imagine the havoc a little earth-shaking might have on the high-profile oil hub.

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U.S. Senate
7:24 pm
Mon January 20, 2014

Lankford Announces Bid For Coburn's Senate Seat

U.S. Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.) announces his Senate candidacy at the Oklahoma History Center on Monday.
Credit Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

U.S. Rep. James Lankford on Monday announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate. The seat is opening early because Senator Tom Coburn, who is battling cancer, is resigning at the end of the current congressional session.

Lankford’s first pitch for the higher office focused as much on the federal government’s failings as his congressional accomplishments.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
2:31 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Oklahoma Oil & Gas Regulator Proposes Rules To Help Study Drilling-Related Earthquakes

A disposal well in Northern Oklahoma.
Credit Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission has proposed new rules requiring more stringent monitoring of disposal wells in a region of the state that has seen a sharp increase in earthquakes.

Oil and gas companies inject saltwater and other drilling fluids into disposal wells so the toxic waste doesn’t contaminate water supplies. Federal and university seismologists have linked disposal wells to Oklahoma’s recent earthquake swarm.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
3:57 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

The Economic Impact Of A Bunch Of Thirsty Oklahoma Cows

Cows Graze in Kay County, Okla.
Credit fireboat895 / Flickr Creative Commons

Cattle is big business in Oklahoma.

In 2013, the state ranked No. 5 in total heads of beef cattle — with 4.2 million heads that represent roughly 4.7 percent of the total U.S. cattle inventory, data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture show.

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