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A group of state energy officials, researchers and industry experts issued a report Monday offering guidance on how to handle earthquakes triggered by oil and gas activity.

Gary Matli, a field inspector supervisor for the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, checks on a Craig Elder Oil and Gas disposal well located east of Guthrie, Okla.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

While the research connecting Oklahoma’s earthquake surge to oil and gas activity is built on algorithms, statistical analysis and computer models of fluid flow and seismic energy, monitoring compliance with regulatory actions designed to stop the shaking relies on muddy, manual fieldwork.


The oil boom that burst forth in western North Dakota seven years ago had both positive and negative effects on the region. While the increase in wealth and new opportunities for young people were welcomed, they brought along with them increased crime and congestion.

But this fall, the town of Alexander, N.D., is celebrating one unexpected upside of the oil boom: the Alexander Comets.

The Comets are a six-man football team (the school is still too small for an 11-man team). This is the students' first season playing, and the town's first season in 28 years.

Pope Francis during a 2014 visit to the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
European Parliament / Flickr

In a 184-page encyclical assigning moral responsibility to the fight against climate change, Pope Francis in June urged the world to phase out its addiction to fossil fuels.

Gov. Mary Fallin speaking at the 2013 Governor's Energy Conference in Tulsa, Okla.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Executives of oil and coal companies pushed Gov. Mary Fallin to “pay more attention” to their industries in public remarks, according to state emails obtained by Greenwire.

The emails, obtained through the Oklahoma Open Records Act, detail internal discussions as Fallin’s prepared for the 2013 Governor’s Energy Conference, Manuel Quiñones and Mike Soraghan report.

A map from the Corporation Commission details the quake-related disposal well actions issued on Sept. 18, 2015.
Oklahoma Corporation Commission

State oil and gas authorities on Friday limited activity at five disposal wells after a string of earthquakes recorded near the city of Cushing.

A wave of small quakes has struck near the city in recent days. On Friday morning, a magnitude 3.8 to 4.1-magnitude temblor was recorded. No damage has been reported.

pumping gas
futureatlas.com / Flickr Creative Commons

Gasoline prices across parts of Arkansas and Oklahoma are at some of their lowest levels in more than a decade, aiding consumers but worrying segments of the economy that rely on oil prices being high.

The Oklahoman reported Thursday that prices could fall to around $1.70 for a gallon of regular gasoline in Oklahoma by the end of the year, and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette said nationwide prices could reach an average of $2.03 per gallon in December.

Gary Matli, a field inspector supervisor for the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, checks on a Craig Elder Oil and Gas disposal well located east of Guthrie, Okla.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

While the research connecting Oklahoma’s earthquake surge to oil and gas activity is built on algorithms, statistical analysis and computer models of fluid flow and seismic energy, monitoring compliance with regulatory actions designed to stop the shaking relies on muddy, manual fieldwork.

TURN DOWN THE VOLUME

A lesser prairie chicken photographed in New Mexico.
Larry Lamsa / Flickr

A Texas federal judge on Tuesday overturned endangered species protections for the lesser prairie chicken.

U.S. District Judge Robert A. Junell ruled that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service didn’t properly consider a voluntary conservation plan established for Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, Kansas and New Mexico before listing the bird as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) speaks to an audience Sept 2, 2015 at the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Republican presidential hopeful Marco Rubio traveled to Oklahoma City Wednesday to preview his national energy strategy.

The junior Republican Senator from Florida’s plan centers on expanding the oil and gas industry and rolling back regulations championed by President Obama.

Workers uncap a well in the western Oklahoma oil field in 2014.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Slumping oil prices have fueled thousands of job losses in big energy states like Oklahoma, which is “gripped by a mini-recession,” economist Mark Snead tells the Journal Record‘s Kirby Lee Davis:

“The notion that Oklahoma has diversified away from oil and gas is, at this point, many, many years away,” he said.

The Grand River Dam Authority's coal-fired plant in Chouteau, Okla., which is impacted by the Regional Haze Rule.
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

President Obama’s Clean Power Plan enraged many top officials in Oklahoma, who argued the rules were an expensive, unnecessary overreach by the federal government.

But the effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions could create opportunities in Oklahoma, researchers and officials say.


Last year was a banner year for earthquakes in Oklahoma, but the state has recorded more magnitude-3.0 temblors in nine months than it did in 2014, Energy Wire’s Mike Soraghan reports.

U.S. Geological Survey

A boom of earthquakes linked to oil and gas production “has and will continue to have sharp economic consequences” in Oklahoma and other states experiencing man-made seismicity,  Standard and Poor’s Rating Services write in a recent report.

U.S. Sen. James Lankford speaking on the floor of the U.S. Senate August 4 about the debate he'd like to see on the country's energy policy.
SenatorLankford / YouTube

On Tuesday U.S. Sen. James Lankford called for an energy and climate debate on the chamber’s floor.

Oklahoma’s junior Republican said the country’s energy policy is run by environmental policy based on fears about climate change.

His remarks came just one day after the White House rolled out a new energy proposal designed to cut carbon emissions, and Lankford said the existing Clean Air Act doesn’t allow the Environmental Protection Agency to add more regulations to the existing law.

An oil and gas operation in Logan County, Okla., in 2015.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma oil and gas authorities on Monday ordered the operators of 23 disposal wells in two counties to reduce the amount of wastewater pumped underground.

Gov. Mary Fallin meets with a worker at a July 2015 event commemorating Oklahoma Gas & Electric's new solar farm in Oklahoma City.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma is synonymous with energy. It’s a major oil and gas state and one of the country’s leaders in wind power. But Oklahoma has been slow on solar energy, and experts say that’s because of state policy — not the sun.

SOLAR ‘SCIENCE EXPERIMENT’

Lawmakers, local business and community leaders, and workers in hardhats on July 27 gathered beneath a tent to celebrate the opening of a new solar power project in west Oklahoma City.

The guest of honor, Gov. Mary Fallin, arrived in an electric Nissan Leaf and made a few short remarks.

The 5.7-magnitude earthquake that struck near Prague, Okla., in November 2011 mortally wounded two century-old towers at St. Gregory’s University — a small catholic university and monastery that has become one of the most visible illustrations of Oklahoma’s earthquake surge. 

The shaking occurred nearly four years ago, but the university and monastery are still struggling with physical and financial damage.

Tammy Mix's sons play on the sidewalk as a drilling rig peeks above the tree line behind her Stillwater home.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

After months of debate, drafting and deferring, the Stillwater City Council on Monday approved a stricter oil and gas ordinance.

The council unanimously approved the new rules, which were crafted with the input of residents, the energy industry and Senate Bill 809 — legislation that goes into effect in August preventing municipalities from enacting ordinances that ban fracking and other oil and gas activities, The Oklahoman‘s Adam Wilmoth reports:

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