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energy

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.

windmills
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:

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.

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'

Demonstrators outside the Norman City Hall before a city council committee met to discuss changes to oil and gas drilling rules.
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

A proposed amendment to legislation limiting the power local governments have to regulate oil and gas operations expands the bill’s language to prevent cities and towns from enacting rules “effectively” banning drilling, fracking and related activities.

House Bill 2178 was authored by Speaker Jeff Hickman, R-Fairview, who also wrote the amendment. I’ve highlighted the proposed changes below:

Austin Holland with the Oklahoma Geological Survey briefs Corporation Commissioners on new earthquake research.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Despite long-held suspicions that the state’s earthquake surge was linked to oil and gas activity, the Oklahoma Geological Survey stayed silent amid pressure from oil company executives, EnergyWire reports.

Rebecca Cruise and Suzette Grillot discuss tensions between Israel and the United States ahead of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress next week, and European nations that are working to develop a more unified energy policy.

Then, a conversation with art historian Maya Stanfield-Mazzi. She studies pre-Colombian art in the Andes, and says the work of South America’s Inca culture was abstract, without a clear narrative.

new peer-reviewed paper published in the journal Science urges greater partnership between industry, government agencies and researchers in responding to the consequences of earthquakes triggered by oil and gas activity.

The paper, authored by the U.S. Geological Survey and other federal scientists, as well as state seismologists, including the Oklahoma Geological Survey’s Austin Holland, also endorsed more transparency:

Protestors outside a public meeting in Oklahoma City about an oil company's proposal to drill near Lake Hefner held signs and chanted "Stop fracking now" and "No more drilling."
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The Senate Energy Committee approved a bill Thursday during its first meeting of the session that would give the state authority to regulate oil and gas operations.

Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa, said SB0809 “…preempts cities from preventing drilling operations in municipalities.”

There were no questions from committee members about the bill and it received a do pass recommendation. Sen. John Sparks, R-Norman, cast the only vote against the do pass recommendation.

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Protestors outside a public meeting in Oklahoma City about an oil company's proposal to drill near Lake Hefner held signs and chanted "Stop fracking now" and "No more drilling."
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

When New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a statewide ban on fracking in 2014, Oklahoma Rep. Casey Murdock took notice.

SandRidge Energy explores for and produces oil in shallow, conventional, domestic basins primarily in the Mississippian formation in Northwest Oklahoma and West Kansas.
Provided

For the fourth time in a week, an Oklahoma energy company has announced layoffs because of low oil prices.

Team Oil Tools says it will close its manufacturing facility just east of downtown Tulsa in April and let its 95 workers go. The company makes oil and gas drilling equipment.

PostRock Energy Corp. said Thursday it's reducing staff at its headquarters by about 25 percent and will cut expenses to reduce operating costs by nearly $4 million a year.

The oil producing company had 57 employees at the end of 2013. A precise number of layoffs wasn't released.

A wind turbine under assembly near Balko in Oklahoma's Panhandle. When completed, the turbine will be part of D.E. Shaw Renewable Investments' 300-megawatt Balko Wind Project.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The wind energy boom has largely evaded Oklahoma’s Panhandle, but new turbine projects and a proposal for a $2 billion transmission line could transform the prairie into a national wind energy hub.

But the projects are being planned amid uncertainty at the state Capitol, where tax credits for the wind industry are in the crosshairs.

FILLING IN THE TRANSMISSION GAP

Despite being one of the state’s richest sources of wind energy, the Oklahoma Panhandle is home to very few wind farms.

Hundreds gathered at a public meeting in Oklahoma City to hear about an oil company's proposal to drill near Lake Hefner.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Several bills filed for the upcoming 2015 legislate session rein in the power cities and counties have to regulate drilling and oil and gas production.

The Oklahoman‘s Paul Monies reports:

At least eight bills have been filed that would stop cities and counties from banning drilling operations, including proposals from top leaders in the House and Senate.

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

As earthquakes continue to rattle Oklahoma and scientists study links to oil and gas production, many Oklahomans want to know what, if anything, is being done to address the shaking.

An investigation by StateImpact shows that while authorities are quietly scrutinizing wells in quake-prone parts of the state, most of the companies that operate the wells are staying silent.

Each person in the U.S. uses 20 pounds of coal every day. Since 1986, about 40 percent of America’s coal continues to come from Wyoming. It’s a lot of coal, especially considering that some label the United States as the “Saudi Arabia of coal.”

As a Republican dominated Congress settles into Washington, they are taking over key Senate committees dealing with energy.

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.”

Oklahoma had a fivefold surge in earthquakes last year, making it by far the most seismically active state in the Lower 48, EnergyWire reports:

Demonstrators outside the Norman City Hall before a city council committee met to discuss changes to oil and gas drilling rules.
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

About 60 demonstrators gathered in front of the Norman City Hall Wednesday evening before the city council’s oversight committee met to discuss changes to the Norman’s oil and gas drilling regulations.

The Central Oklahoma Clean Water Coalition hosted the rally. Organizer Casey Holcolm says the current ordinances were written before fracking became so widespread.

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.

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