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energy

Ozone is a major contributor to smog, seen here blanketing Los Angeles.
Pieter Edelman / Flickr

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal for stricter ozone standards has been praised by environmentalists as a step in the right direction and derided by industry groups, which argue the rules will cost jobs and lead to higher prices for electricity and natural gas.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

The cost of producing and providing electricity generated by solar panels and wind turbines has plunged in recent years, and are on track to meet — and in some markets are already beating — the generation costs of conventional sources like coal and natural gas.

Ed Schipul / Flickr.com

The lowest holiday gasoline prices in five years are expected to result in an increased number of Oklahomans traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

AAA Oklahoma estimates nearly 602,000 Oklahomans will travel this year during the holiday — the highest volume since 2007 and a nearly 5 percent increase over 2013.

The agency estimates 90 percent of the travelers — 542,000 people —will get to Thanksgiving destinations by car, pickup or RV — 4.8 percent more than last year. Another 49,000 residents will fly — a 3.4 percent jump.

A panel of state geological surveys and oil and gas regulators at the National Seismic Hazard Workshop on Induced Seismicity, held in November at a conference center in Midwest City, Okla.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Scientists, regulators and technical experts from the energy industry met in Oklahoma to discuss how earthquakes triggered by oil and gas operations should be accounted for on national seismic hazard maps, which are used by the construction and insurance industries and pubic safety planners.

The three-day workshop started Nov. 17 and was co-hosted by the Oklahoma Geological Survey and the U.S. Geological Survey.

A Frack Free Denton booth at the University of North Texas. On Nov. 4, voters approved a citywide ban on hydraulic fracturing.
Crystal J. Hollis / Flickr

Driven by water worries, safety questions and quality of life concerns, residents in Oklahoma and states around the country have pushed for citywide bans on hydraulic fracturing.

Many of those efforts have proved successful, but, in the end, fracking bans might be more about lawyers than voters.

A drilling rig in far northwest Oklahoma City.
Kool Cats Photography / Flickr Creative Commons

Crude oil prices have plummeted to the lowest level in three years, a slump analysts say is fueled by reduced demand due to stalling growth in Europe and China, andbooming supply from domestic production in the U.S.

In Oklahoma — a state where, historically, finances have risen and fallen with the fortunes of the energy industry — the tumbling oil price has been met with different reactions from oil and gas company executives, economists and state finance officials.

Rep. Cory Williams, D-Stillwater, questions Secretary of Energy and Environment Michael Teague at an interim study and hearing about earthquakes and disposal well oversight held in October 2014.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma’s earthquake surge is unrelenting. The shaking is rattling residents and cracking the foundations of homes.

The quakes have also strained state agencies, which are struggling to keep up with the ongoing swarm while simultaneously developing a longer-term plan to analyze and address factors that might be triggering the earthquakes.

'Meaningful Action'

Gov. Mary Fallin and Secretary of Energy and Environment Michael Teague at the Governor's Energy Conference September 4, 2014 in Oklahoma CIty.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma’s earthquake surge and possible links to oil and gas activity have been studied in scientific papers, discussed at heated town-hall meetings and explored regulatory hearings.

The quakes are now triggering some rumblings at the state Capitol.

About 4,000 earthquakes have shaken Oklahoma this year, data from the Oklahoma Geological Survey show. Most of the quakes have been small — roughly 10 percent were 3.0-magnitude or greater, the threshold at which seismologists say the temblors are likely perceivable.

Monte Tucker, left, stands with his son and dad on the family's farm near Sweetwater, Okla.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

In the ongoing debate about Oklahoma’s wind industry and whether it needs stricter regulation, two types of property owners have been the most vocal: those who hate the idea of turbines next door, and those eager to lease land to a wind company.

But there’s a voice that’s been largely absent from the discussion so far: Landowners who have wind farms and like them.

Family, Factory

The solar power business is growing quickly in the U.S. More than 500,000 homeowners and businesses installed solar panels in just the first half of this year, according to a Solar Energy Industries Association report.

When people get electricity from the sun, they don't buy it from their local power company. But that utility still must have the generators and power lines to provide electricity when the sun is not shining. That's creating conflicts across the country.

Al Jazeera Plus produced a 10-minute video on Oklahoma’s earthquake swarm, which included interviews with worried residents and activists and explored some of the science that has linked the seismic surge to wastewater disposal wells used by the oil and gas industry. 

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

An Oklahoma City attorney who challenged the constitutionality of a bill that changed the effective tax rate levied on oil and gas drillers asked the Oklahoma Supreme Court on Monday to dismiss his lawsuit.

From The Oklahoman‘s Rick Green:

Joy Hampton / The Norman Transcript

The Lowry Room at the Norman Public Library filled to capacity Monday night, and a mass of people packed into the hallways to listen to a forum on hydraulic fracturing that included an OU scientist, an assistant city attorney, and a lawyer from upstate New York who’s helped communities there ban fracking.

StateImpact’s Logan Layden moderated the event as each panelist made a presentation, and read questions from the audience.

Brian Kusler / Flickr Creative Commons

Corporation Commissioner Dana Murphy will host a meeting to discuss the implementation of SB1456, the distributed electrical energy bill approved by lawmakers and signed by Gov. Mary Fallin earlier this year.

Murphy had called for inclusion of distributed generation in a notice of inquiry on wind generation approved by the commission Tuesday.

Commissioners Patrice Douglas and Bob Anthony, however, wanted to address the issues separately.

well site
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The 5.7-magnitude earthquake that struck near Prague, Okla., in November 2011 toppled Sandra Ladra’s chimney, raining rocks “on her lap and legs.”

Ladra on Aug. 4 filed a lawsuit against energy companies that operate disposal wells she claims caused the quake. She is seeking $75,000 in actual damages plus punitive damages, the Journal Record‘s D. Ray Tuttle reports.

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.

Tim Evanson / Flickr.com

An Oklahoma energy company says it plans to build another factory in western North Dakota capable of processing 200 million cubic feet of natural gas daily.

Tulsa-based Oneok (ONE'-oak) Inc. and Gov. Jack Dalrymple announced the more than $605 million project on Wednesday. The company says the Demicks Lake factory in northeast McKenzie County is expected to be completed in 2016.

The factory would be the seventh the company is operating or building in North Dakota. Oneok says the factory will bring its total investment in North Dakota to about $4 billion.

Oklahoma City attorney and legislative watchdog Jerry Fent, who has successfully challenged laws in the past, comes out of a hearing room 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.

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.

Close-up of a Pump Jack
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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