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StateImpact Oklahoma

Sheldon Stauffer outside the Lighthouse Bait and Tackle shop in Kingston, Okla.
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Lake Texoma State Park was once one of Oklahoma’s most popular parks. Then much of it was sold to a private development firm that has yet to fulfill its promise to build a multi-million dollar resort. The matter was recently settled in court, but many local residents don’t like the results.

Not What It Used To Be

J.C. Goodson stands in the warehouse of Rainmaker Sales in Shawnee, Okla.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The State of Oklahoma and the Citizen Potawatomi Nation are clashing in court over the growth of a tribally controlled rural water district. The state is questioning the district’s legal status, but tribal leaders suspect the confrontation is about politics — not water pipes.

J.C. Goodson is in the plastic pipe business. He sells tons of the stuff — seriously, tons.

“That coil weighs 2,000 to 3,000 pounds depending on the diameter,” Goodson says, showing off truck-sized spools of polyethylene pipe that line the 10-acre gravel yard behind Rainmaker Sales in Shawnee.

State Rep. Brian Renegar, D-McAlester
Provided / Oklahoma House of Representatives

State Rep. Brian Renegar, D-McAlester, and three of his House colleagues on Monday wrote a letter to Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt asking for his opinion on whether it’s legal for members of the state Water Resources Board to stay on the OWRB even after their positions have been eliminated.

Renegar wrote on behalf of Representatives Donnie Condit, Ed Cannaday, and Johnny Tadlock, all from southeast Oklahoma:

Atoka Lake in southeast Oklahoma, a focal point of the controversy over who controls water in that part of the state.
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Southeast Oklahoma has many of the state’s largest lakes and rivers and much of the state’s water, but no one from the area serves on the Oklahoma Water Resources Board, the state’s water regulator. A 2013 law requires the area to have representation. But, so far, that hasn’t happened.

Water But No Rep

Wheat farmer Fred Schmedt stands in one of his family's fields south of Altus, Okla.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Heavy rains delayed the 2016 wheat harvest in Oklahoma, but the yield could be better than recent years. Many farmers, however, are still making up losses from a drought that climatologists warn could be returning.

It’s a hot, dry and relatively windless day south of Altus in southwest Oklahoma. Eight to 11 inches of rain has fallen in the area over the last few weeks, and Fred Schmedt is on his cell phone trying to keep large trucks and tractor-trailers off his field.

A flowchart from ODOT's new manual on inspecting bridges after earthquakes.
Oklahoma Department of Transportation

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation has changed its post-earthquake bridge-inspection plan after a year-long study showed no structural damage from seismic activity.

Under the new plan, which went into effect April 1, ODOT will only inspect bridges after magnitude 4.7 or greater quakes. Regions where bridge inspections are required will expand as earthquake intensity increases:

A disposal well in Northern Oklahoma.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Environmental groups are threatening to file a federal lawsuit against four Oklahoma energy companies over earthquakes linked to oil and gas activity.

Scientists say the industry practice of pumping oil and gas waste fluid underground is likely responsible for Oklahoma’s earthquake boom.

The oil hub in Cushing, Oklahoma.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

State oil and gas regulators on Friday expanded limits on disposal wells near Cushing, Oklahoma. The shutdowns and volume limits come amid renewed worry about earthquake activity near one of the country’s largest crude oil storage hubs.

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. 

University of Oklahoma graduate students near Wellston, Okla., installing a seismometer to study central-Oklahoma's earthquake swarm
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

A series of peer-reviewed papers published June 2 in The Leading Edge detail new research on disposal well-triggered earthquakes in Oklahoma.

seismic readout
Great Beyond / Flickr

A pair of earthquakes has rattled parts of Noble County in central Oklahoma.

The U.S. Geological Survey says each of the quakes was recorded early Sunday northwest of Perry.

The first temblor was recorded shortly after 5 a.m. about 12 miles north-northwest of Perry at a depth of about three miles. The USGS says the earthquake was a magnitude 3.1.

The second quake was recorded about two hours later about seven miles northwest of Perry, also at a depth of three miles. Geologists say that quake was magnitude 2.8.

Attendees listen as former Missouri state senator Wes Shoemeyer speaks against Amendment 1 at the Missouri’s Food for America sign-making event at Café Berlin Friday, June 27, 2014 in Columbia, Missouri.
KOMUnews / Flickr

A bill that would allow voters to decide if the state Constitution should be changed to guarantee “the right of farmers and ranchers to employ agricultural technology and livestock production and ranching practices” passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives without debate Thursday.

It now heads to the Senate, where it’s also expected to meet widespread support.

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2014GL062730/pdf

The faults responsible for thousands of earthquakes in Oklahoma are capable of producing larger earthquakes, according to a new study.

These “reactivated” faults were formed roughly 300 million years ago and are well known for creating underground structures that “trap” oil and natural gas, the U.S. Geological Survey wrote in a statement about the new research.

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

A bill to redefine public utilities in Oklahoma has been withdrawn amid concerns it would threaten plans for a major electricity transmission project connecting state wind farms to consumers in the South and on the East Coast.

Republican Rep. Todd Thomsen of Ada withdrew his bill from consideration after members of the House Utilities Committee complained it would threaten the Plains & Eastern Clean Line.

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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