Oklahoma Corporation Commission

Oklahoma state Rep. Richard Morrissette, D-Oklahoma City, gestures as he speaks during a public forum on earthquakes and fracking at the state Capitol on June 14, 2016.
Sue Ogrocki / AP

State Rep. Richard Morrissette, D-Oklahoma City, has dropped out of the race for Corporation Commissioner, which means incumbent Dana Murphy will win reelection to the regulatory post this fall.

In an email from his campaign Wednesday morning, Morrissette said his father’s death earlier this year affected him more deeply than he expected.

Gov. Mary Fallin
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin on Monday signed legislation that clarifies state regulators’ authority to take action on oil and gas operations linked to earthquakes.

The measure, House Bill 3158, authored by Republican House Speaker Jeff Hickman of Fairview, takes effect immediately.

Tulsa resident Ashley Hacker exits a polling place after casting his vote on a sales tax extension proposal Tuesday.
Rip Stell / The Journal Record

Voters across Oklahoma went to the polls on Tuesday for mostly local elections, including a series of sales tax initiatives in both northeast and central Oklahoma.

In the city of Tulsa, voters approved three separate tax propositions totaling 0.55 percent. They deal with public safety, infrastructure, and capital projects as part of the Vision 2025 program first approved in 2003.

“The tax rate will not go up in Tulsa,” said The Journal Record’s managing editor Adam Brooks. “It’s just extending what they already have and will stay at 8.517 percent.”

Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner Dana Murphy talks with residents concerned about seismic activity during a March 25, 2015 town hall meeting in Medford.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Less than 24 hours after two magnitude 4.0 earthquakes struck central Oklahoma, Corporation Commissioner Dana Murphy discussed the uptick in seismic activity with lawmakers.

The first magnitude 4.2 temblor came Monday evening shortly before midnight, and a second 4.1 magnitude tremor struck shortly after 5 a.m. Both were near the town of Crescent in Logan County.

New Source Energy Partners is headquartered at 914 N. Broadway Ave. in Oklahoma City.
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

It’s been more than 18 months since the start of the energy downturn that saw the price of oil dip to about $30 dollars a barrel.

It’s slowly starting to rebound, and it’s led to bankruptcies, a few success stories, and even some variables that have nothing to do with market forces.

Last week New Source Energy Partners filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The small company based in an office along Broadway in Oklahoma City’s Automobile Alley had a credit cut in October that took its borrowing base from $49 million to $24 million.

A SandRidge Energy well in northwestern Oklahoma.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission unanimously voted Tuesday to approve new rules specifying how agency staff and disposal well operators will settle disputes over regulatory actions issued to reduce earthquakes.

Oklahoma House Speaker Jeff Hickman, R-Fairview.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The Oklahoma House on Monday voted to approve legislation clarifying and confirming the authority of state oil and gas regulators to take actions designed to stop industry-linked earthquakes.

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

The oil and gas industry practice of pumping waste fluid into disposal wells is likely responsible for Oklahoma’s exponential surge in earthquake activity.

Jack Romine stands near a makeshift chimney state inspectors installed over an abandoned, leaky well that was discovered near his home in Bartlesville, Okla.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma has hundreds of abandoned oil and gas wells, the byproduct of a century of petroleum production. Left unrepaired, many of these wells can endanger people and the environment. The state has a fund to plug abandoned wells, but some of that money has been diverted due to budget cuts.

Jack Romine discovered natural gas without spending a dime on exploration, drilling or production.

Oklahoma Geological Survey seismologists and representatives from the Corporation Commission lead a public meeting on earthquakes held in March 2015 in Medford, Okla.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

A former research seismologist with the Oklahoma Geological Survey says agency leaders and other state officials fostered a culture of hesitation and reluctance to act on science suggesting the state’s earthquake boom was linked to oil and gas activities.

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