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.

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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.

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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A tanker truck pulling into a terminal at the oil hub in Cushing, Okla.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

A booming U.S. oil industry has led to near-record amounts of oil production, which has helped drive down oil prices. The energy industry has responded by storing crude instead of selling it at discount rates. That has created a unique situation in Oklahoma, where a major oil storage hub is on track to fill up — completely.

One-fifth of the country’s commercial crude oil storage capacity is located Cushing, Okla., a small city of about 7,900 in northeastern Oklahoma. On the city’s outskirts, field after field are filled with hulking steel storage tanks.

An American Energy Woodford well near Perkins, Okla.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

As earthquakes continue to surge in Oklahoma and seismologists warn of more frequent and more damaging shaking, the state’s oil and gas regulator is issuing new orders to companies operating wells in seismically active regions of the state.

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission’s new requirements, known as directives, were mailed March 18 to 92 people or companies operating 347 Arbuckle formation disposal wells in quake-prone regions of the state.

Richard Masoner /

Oklahoma lost about 500 mining industry jobs between December and January, data from the Oklahoma Employment Securities Commission show.

Almost all in-state “mining” jobs are actually in oil and gas drilling, The Journal Record‘s Sarah Terry-Cobo reports. And while the job losses haven’t yet affected the state’s unemployment rate, currently 3.9 percent, oil sector employment will likely take a big hit in the months to come, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City’s bulletin The Oklahoma Economist.

Volunteers watching the polls in November 2014 in Denton, Texas, before voters approved a citywide ban on hydraulic fracturing.
Photomancer / Flickr

As legislation written to prevent counties and municipalities from banning hydraulic fracturing and other oil and gas activities advances through the Oklahoma House and Senate, some city leaders and their advocates say the measures go too far and could have unintended consequences.

'Mess In Texas'