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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StateImpact Oklahoma
11:23 am
Wed August 6, 2014

Mapped: Which Oklahoma Counties Are Crossed By Trainloads Of Bakken Crude Oil

Source: Oklahoma Hazardous Materials Emergency Response Commission

Trains carrying 1 million more gallons of crude oil from the Bakken formation are expected to cross 20 Oklahoma counties each week, data from the Oklahoma Hazardous Materials Emergency Response Commission show.

Explosive, deadly derailments and fiery accidents have raised safety concerns about rail transport of North Dakota Bakken crude oil, which tests suggest might be more explosive than other types of crude oil.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
7:24 pm
Mon August 4, 2014

Clean-Up Of Hydrocloric Acid Spill In Kingfisher County

Workers clean up an acid spill in Kingfisher County.
Joe Wertz StateImpact Oklahoma

Contractors worked through the weekend to clean up an acid spill at an oil and gas site near Hennessey in Kingfisher County. About 20,000 gallons of hydrochloric acid leaked from a tank into an alfalfa field last week, killing crops over a 500-foot long path.

”The area of contamination was bermed before the rains came to prevent anything from getting into the creek," said Corporation Commission spokesman Matt Skinner. "And the water then that resulted from when the rains came, that has been pumped off and taken off site.”

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StateImpact Oklahoma
6:53 pm
Mon August 4, 2014

State Senator Calls for Federal Task Force On Oklahoma Earthquakes

State Sen. Jerry Ellis, D-Valiant.
Joe Wertz StateImpact Oklahoma

State Sen. Jerry Ellis on Monday suggested that a federal task force be formed to develop a statewide earthquake “emergency action plan.”

The task force would be charged with examining and evaluating scientific studies related to Oklahoma’s earthquake swarm, which a growing chorus of scientistssay is likely linked to disposal wells used by the oil and gas industry, and make recommendations on possible solutions, according to a press release from the House Democratic Caucus. 

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StateImpact Oklahoma
8:36 am
Wed July 30, 2014

In Lawsuit Over Oil And Gas Tax Law, Two Ways To ‘Test’ A Revenue Bill In Oklahoma

Oklahoma City attorney and legislative watchdog Jerry Fent, who has successfully challenged laws in the past, leaves a courtroom at the State Supreme Court, where a referee heard his lawsuit over House Bill 2562.
Joe Wertz StateImpact Oklahoma

The State Supreme Court on July 29 heard a lawsuit and constitutional challenge to House Bill 2562, a measure that would change the effective state tax rate levied on oil and gas production.

Both parties agreed that the measure was written to reduce taxes, but is HB 2562 a “revenue bill?” That definition is important because this court battle isn’t about policy, it’s about procedure.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
7:18 pm
Tue July 29, 2014

Supreme Court Referee Hears Challenge On Taxes For Oil and Gas Drilling

Retired Oklahoma City attorney Jerry Fent.
Credit Brent Fuchs/Journal Record

A state Supreme Court referee heard a lawsuit Tuesday over a recently signed bill that was written to lower taxes for oil and gas drilling. The outcome of the constitutional challenge could go well beyond Oklahoma’s oil field.

Oklahoma City attorney and legislative watchdog Jerry Fent filed the lawsuit in June.

He argues the oil and gas tax bill is invalid because the Legislature ignored extra procedural burdens voters in the ‘90s placed on “revenue bills.” 

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Energy
9:19 am
Tue July 29, 2014

Inside The State Supreme Court Hearing On Lawsuit Over Oil And Gas Tax Rate

A lawsuit over recently signed legislation that changes state oil and gas tax rates will be heard by the Oklahoma Supreme Court today, a constitutional challenge that could have broad impact on industry and legislative procedure.

I broke down the lawsuit on an Oklahoma News Report segment with OETA’s Dick Pryor, which you can watch above. But there are five things you need to know about today’s hearing, which could hinge on legal subtleties and word interpretations.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
7:34 am
Tue July 29, 2014

Oil-Covered Owls Prompt Investigation Of ‘Neglected’ Oil Field Site

Credit neillharmer / Flickr

The discovery of two barn oils coated in oil has prompted an investigation of a “neglected” oil field site in northwest Oklahoma.

Both owls died, the Enid News & Eagle reported Tuesday.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
7:36 am
Thu July 24, 2014

Why Oklahoma’s Wind Energy Future Could Be Shaped By Osage County

Bob Hamilton, director of the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve near Pawhuska, Okla.
Joe Wertz StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma is moving up the national ranks in wind-generated electricity. But as wind farms expand into northeastern Oklahoma, developers are facing a team of unlikely allies: oil interests and environmentalists.

Wind farm developers encounter opposition wherever projects are planned, but the debate in Oklahoma is perhaps most magnified in Osage County, where there’s a confluence of money, government and prairie politics.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
1:04 pm
Mon July 14, 2014

Oklahoma Officials May Reconsider Keeping Oil Train Info Secret

Sam Beebe Flickr Creative Commons

In the wake of deadly derailments, fiery explosions and dangerous spills, the federal government in May ordered railroads to share with state authorities more information about some crude oil shipments.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
3:44 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

Four More State Parks At Risk As Budget Cuts And Low Revenue Loom

Credit Christopher Caldwell / Flickr Creative Commons

Four state parks in northeastern Oklahoma could be sold off, leased out or closed due to state budget cuts and low park revenue.

Oklahoma Department of Tourism and Recreation hasn’t made a final decision on three of the parks, but is considering selling or leasing Disney/Little Blue Area at Grand Lake, Snowdale Area at Grand Lake and Spring River Canoe Trails.

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