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
11:23 am
Thu May 1, 2014

Lesser Prairie Chicken Peep Show: In The Field With Oklahoma’s ‘Threatened’ Bird

A group of bird watchers at the Selman Ranch, which hosts the Lesser Prairie Chicken Festival in northwest Oklahoma.
Joe Wertz StateImpact Oklahoma

Betsy Searight and her husband John drove from all the way from New Jersey for this opportunity: Wake up at 4 a.m., huddle against the cold, and sit silently and motionless for hours hoping to watch a Lesser Prairie Chicken peep show.

After a long fight between Oklahoma and the U.S. government, the Lesser Prairie Chicken goes on the federal threatened species list later this month.

To find out how the listing will affect Oklahoma and why the bird is worth protecting, we took a trip to the High Plains of northwestern Oklahoma.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
11:35 am
Thu April 24, 2014

What An Oklahoma Grazing Land Can Teach Us About Global Climate Change

University of Oklahoma Ph.D. student and research assistant Yuting Zhou installs a sensor in an experimental wheat field at the Grazinglands Research Lab in El Reno, Okla.
Joe Wertz StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma is known for its wild weather. And now, the state’s variable climate is helping scientists understand how climate change could affect farms everywhere.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
1:18 pm
Tue April 22, 2014

Gov. Mary Fallin Signs Distributed Electricity Generation Bill

Gov. Mary Fallin on Monday signed Senate Bill 1456, a measure that would allow regulated electric utilities to charge customers who generate electricity from rooftop solar panels or small wind turbines.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
1:31 pm
Mon April 21, 2014

Solar And Wind Surcharge Bill Passes Legislature, Awaits Governor’s Signature

Credit Brian Kusler / Flickr Creative Commons

A legislative measure that would allow electricity utilities to charge higher rates to customers who generate electricity with small solar installations or wind turbines has passed an Oklahoma House committee and now awaits Gov. Mary Fallin’s signature.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
8:35 am
Thu April 17, 2014

Red Tape, Not Rules, Used To Manage Disposal Wells In Oklahoma's Earthquake Country

Rig crews in Oklahoma City fracking a well.
Joe Wertz StateImpact Oklahoma

As earthquakes continue to shake the state and researchers study links to drilling, Oklahoma’s oil and gas regulator has changed the way it approves permits for injection wells.

Oil and water have long mixed in Oklahoma and other petroleum states. In the early days of the U.S. oil boom, drillers were focused on finding ways to separate water from the oil they were pumping to the surface.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
3:27 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

OK Policy Poll: Voters Oppose Tax Incentives For Horizontal Drilling

Credit Meredithw / Flickr Creative Commons

A new poll shows 64 percent of Oklahoma voters oppose state tax incentives for horizontal drilling and support eliminating the incentive to pay for other government services.

Oklahoma levies a 7 percent tax on oil and gas production, but the horizontal drilling incentive lowers the rate to 1 percent for the first 48 months of production. The incentive expires in 2015, and some Oklahoma lawmakers are pushing to make the reduced rate permanent.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
2:06 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

City Of Norman Awaiting Permit To Sell Reclaimed Water So Frackers Don’t Have To Use Drinking Water

Credit alphageek / Flickr Creative Commons

A Texas drilling company has tapped a hydrant and is using drinking water from the City of Norman for a hydraulic fracturing operation.

Norman has faced water supply shortages and the city has declared mandatory conservation measures, which restricts activities like outdoor watering and car washing, and hydraulic fracturing uses hundreds of thousands to millions of gallons of water.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
12:32 pm
Mon April 7, 2014

Anadarko’s $5 Billion Environmental Settlement: Four Things Okies Should Know

A Kerr-McGee service station and refinery in Wynnewood, photographed in 1974.
Credit Kerr-McGee Corporation Collection / Oklahoma Historical Society

Anadarko Petroleum on Thursday agreed to pay more than $5 billion for an immense environmental cleanup that includes U.S. sites contaminated by nuclear fuel, rocket fuel waste and wood creosote.

The case was brought by a trust representing the U.S. government, 11 states, Indian tribes and individuals affected by the contamination, and sought funds for cleanups at 2,700 sites in 47 states.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
11:46 am
Wed April 2, 2014

Why Small Solar And Wind Generators Are Worried About Surcharge Legislation

A wind turbine near Calumet, Okla.
Credit Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Solar panel and wind turbine technology is improving rapidly, and many small-scale customers are excited by the potential to generate electricity and sell it — outright, or for credit — back to the grid.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
3:07 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

To Frack Wells In Norman, Driller Buys City Drinking Water Right From The Hydrant

Credit alphageek / Flickr Creative Commons

For a fee, most municipalities will give contractors and other industrial users a special water meter and temporary access to a city fire hydrant. The meters and hydrant access are often used for construction sites, and the buyer usually pays a higher per-gallon water rate for the high-flow access.

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