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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.

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.

Voters want to see the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, which currently oversees all other electrical generating facilities in the state except for electricity created by wind, to regulate wind energy as well, with 72.4 percent in support.

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.

Waterkeeper Alliance Inc. / Flickr Creative Commons

Surging oil production in states like North Dakota has outpaced pipeline capacity, and the energy industry has turned to railroads to transport oil from fields to refineries.

Future temperature changes pose serious risks to the climate-sensitive agricultural and energy industries in Oklahoma and other Great Plains states, a new study on the business and economic effects of climate change concludes.

Oklahoma's average summer temperature range is expected to increase from 81.7-83.58°F to 87.0-93.51°F from 2020 to 2099, the report predicts.

Dave Fehling / StateImpact Texas

In states with the most oil and gas drilling, including Texas, Oklahoma and North Dakota, the U.S. Department of Labor has won back pay for over 4,000 energy industry workers in just the past year.

It totaled $6.7 million dollars, accounting for a third of all such settlements by all types of industries nationwide.

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