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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:

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

Oklahoma oil and gas authorities are expanding regulations on disposal wells in earthquake-prone regions of the state. The orders, known as directives, were issued this week and broaden restrictions issued nearly four months ago.

Abbot Lawrence Stasyszen of St. Gregory's Monastery traces cracks in the walls of the monk's workshop, which was damaged in a 5.7-magnitude earthquake that struck the nearby city of Prague in November 2011.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The rate of earthquakes in Oklahoma appears to be accelerating, and the state is responding.

Lawmakers have scheduled capitol hearings and oil and gas regulators will soon issue stricter guidelines on disposal wells linked to the shaking. Future earthquakes are a big concern, but one Oklahoma institution is still dealing with the damage one quake caused nearly four years ago.

Oil-field workers in November 2014 tending to American Energy-Woodford's Judge South well near Perkins, Okla., shortly after the Oklahoma Corporation Commission ordered it temporarily shut-in.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

In November 2011, a 5.7-magnitude earthquake struck near Prague, Okla., causing significant damage and injuring two people. Right away, the possibility that the disposal of wastewater by injecting it deep into the earth — part of the hydraulic fracturing process — was to blame came up.

The team at Reveal produced a nifty video on Oklahoma’s earthquake surge that shows, with entertaining visuals, the science of “induced seismicity” — the scientific mechanism that explains how disposal wells used by the oil and gas industry can trigger earthquakes.

The video, produced by Ariane Wu, was based on a reporting collaboration between myself and Reveal’s Michael Corey

oil pump
Sarah Nichols / Flickr

Gov. Mary Fallin signed controversial legislation in May outlawing municipal bans on fracking and other oil and gas activities. Officials in some communities are re-examining their local drilling ordinances to comply with the law, which goes into effect later this summer.

One city in southeastern Oklahoma, however, isn’t budging.

Richard Masoner / Flickr.com

A story detailing how University of Oklahoma officials sought a $25 million donation from an oil executive while scientists at the school formulated a state agency’s position on oil and gas-triggered earthquakes is under fire from both the university president and the billionaire oilman. 

When Denton, Texas, voted to ban fracking in the town last year, the state’s oil and gas industry jumped into high gear. The day after the vote, the industry and the state filed lawsuits against Denton. The Texas legislature also passed legislation that stops local governments from regulating most drilling. From Here & Now contributing station KUT, Mose Buchele explains how this “ban on the ban” came about and why Denton just overturned its fracking ban.

OG&E's coal-fired power plant in Muskogee.
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

On Monday an administrative law judge recommended Oklahoma’s oil, gas, and utility regulator reject several key components of Oklahoma Gas & Electric’s billion-dollar plan to raise rates in order to pay for efforts to comply with Environmental Protection Agency rules.

The Journal Record’s managing editor Adam Brooks says the Oklahoma Corporation Commission has been holding hearings on preapproval of OG&E’s $1.1 billion request. It’s split up into $700 million to get several plants into compliance with the EPA guidelines, plus another $400 million in upgrades to the plant in Mustang west of Oklahoma City. To pay for that, the utility would raise residential and consumer rates by about 19 percent over five years.

OG&E's coal-fired power plant in Muskogee, Okla.
Granger Meador / Flickr

An Oklahoma Corporation Commission Administrative Law Judge recommended state regulators reject several “major portions” of Oklahoma Gas & Electric’s proposal to recover environmental compliance costs.

Continental Resources CEO Harold Hamm
Provided / Continental Resources

Harold Hamm, the founder, chairman and CEO of Continental Resources, says he requested a meeting with a state seismologist to get information, not to “bully” a scientist tasked with studying an earthquake surge that has been linked to oil and gas activity.

EnergyWire’s Mike Soraghan reports:

A Devon Energy disposal well near Stillwater, Okla.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission in March ordered the operators of nearly 350 disposal wells to prove their operations weren’t allowing waste fluid to be pumped into a rock formation known to produce earthquakes.

The Corporation Commission has not provided comprehensive records or data related to the operators’ responses to the March directives despite multiple requests by StateImpact. Today, the commission issued a statement that provides a snapshot of the industry’s response to the directives:

The Devon Energy Center in downtown Oklahoma City.
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

It’s been an interesting week in Oklahoma's energy sector.

On Tuesday, state treasurer Ken Miller released his office’s monthly revenue figures, which showed collections from oil and natural gas production dropped by more than 54 percent compared to April 2014. A day later, several energy companies released their first quarter earnings for this year.

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