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

A panel of state geological surveys and oil and gas regulators at the National Seismic Hazard Workshop on Induced Seismicity, held in November at a conference center in Midwest City, Okla.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma experienced more earthquakes than California in 2014, but the rate and severity of the shaking “has held relatively flat over the past 12 months,” The Oklahoman’s Adam Wilmoth reports.

Close-up of a Pump Jack
neillharmer / Flickr

The price of crude oil has plummeted below $50 a barrel, and while there are varying opinions and analyses on whether the downturn will be short slump or a long slog, students in Oklahoma who are enrolled in engineering disciplines are starting to worry that low oil prices could affect

The sign on the front door of Pecan Creek Catering in New Cordell, Okla., may say closed, but this kitchen is open for business. It used to be a cafe, but owner Chad Igo closed the restaurant years ago to focus on catering exclusively to the oil industry.

"We're kings when it's good. They love us. But as soon as it gets tight, we're the first one to get cut," he says.

Chad Igo owns Pecan Creek Catering in New Cordell, Okla., which delievers food to workers in the oil patch.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The sign on the front door says “closed,” but Pecan Creek Catering in New Cordell, Okla., is open for business. Out back, a tractor-trailer is being unloaded. Giant cans of green beans, tomatoes and mushrooms are hauled inside, where they’re sorted and stacked on metal shelves.

In the kitchen, Jennifer Etris pours a carton of buttermilk into a giant bowl and stirs.

“I cheat,” she says. “I use two of these ranch dressing mixes instead of one. It is known all over the world, my ranch dressing.”

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission will consider rules for the wind industry that outline proper procedures for landowner notification and turbine decommissioning, according to an order signed Tuesday.

U.S. Energy Information Agency

The U.S. is expected to have added about 5 gigawatts of wind-generated electricity capacity in 2014, estimates from the federal Energy Information Agency show. Officials expect even more growth — up to an additional 11 GW — in 2015, with most of the added capacity coming from five states: Oklahoma, Texas, Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota.

A representative for Pedestal Oil Company explains the Lake Hefner drilling proposal to a crowd gathered in the Ed Lycan Conservatory at Will Rogers Gardens.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

A rowdy crowd of concerned residents shouted at city officials and questioned representatives of an oil company at a Thursday night meeting about a proposal to drill near Lake Hefner in Oklahoma City.

Gov. Mary Fallin and other state leaders observe a PowerPoint presentation of revenue projections.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The State Board of Equalization met Thursday to certify state revenues for Gov. Mary Fallin's budgeting ahead of the next legislative session and fiscal year. Oklahoma has enough revenue to trigger an income tax cut.

The amount of money available to fund state government is trending flat, but officials say lackluster revenues seem manageable.

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

StateImpact racked up thousands of miles traveling across the state this year, filing more than 40 radio stories and hundreds of web posts on how government energy, environmental and economic policy affects ordinary Oklahomans. And many of those stories involve issues that are ongoing.

EPA Regulations

cstoddard / Flickr Creative Commons

Groundwater pumping for agricultural irrigation is likely responsible for substantial depletions of the Ogallala Aquifer, which underlies 175,000 square miles in Oklahoma and seven other states, a report by the U.S. Geological Survey suggests.

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