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StateImpact Oklahoma

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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Oklahoma’s surge in earthquakes and possible links to oil and gas activity has led regulators to scrutinize permits for disposal well operators in quake-prone regions of the state.

Former Oklahoma Geological Survey seismologist Austin Holland.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Washington Post reporter Lori Montgomery traveled central Oklahoma and filed a story about Oklahoma’s earthquake swarm, an examination that included interviews from concerned residents, politicians and Sandra Ladra, who was injured in the 5.7-magnitude November 2011 earthquake and 

la vaca vegetariana / Flickr Creative Commons

Since the federal Clean Water Act first became law in 1972, there’s been confusion over which bodies of water qualify for protection under its provisions. Enter the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Waters of the U.S. rule, which means to bring clarity to the situation.

Three years ago KGOU and our other public media colleagues in Oklahoma started a project with NPR called StateImpact Oklahoma.

After countless web stories and nearly 150 broadcast reports, the project's digital guru Joe Wertz created this Google map with a pin from every broadcast story they've reported and traveled to over the past 36 months.

A coal-fired power plant near Oologah, Okla.
Roadhunter / Flickr Creative Commons

Carbon dioxide emission rules proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to reduce pollution from power plants “are poorly formulated and impractical,” executives from Western Farmers Electric Cooperative said Tuesday.

seismograph
Ray Bouknight / Flickr

While a growing chorus of scientific research has linked Oklahoma’s recent spike in earthquake activity to oil and gas industry disposal wells, a new study suggests such artificial earthquakes are less intense than naturally occurring temblors.

StateImpact Oklahoma

I just completed a final report for the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation for their support of the third year of StateImpact Oklahoma.

I want to highlight the great year we had with StateImpact Oklahoma.

Last year, StateImpact Oklahoma reporters Joe Wertz and Logan Layden created 47 radio stories, appeared on OETA or other TV outlets 18 times, created 254 regular web posts and 27 multi-media web stories with interactive maps and visualizations.

For the third year in a row, a large-scale fish-kill has been reported on the Salt Fork River in north-central Oklahoma.

“Hundreds and maybe thousands” of catfish, carp, buffalo and other bottom-feeding fish were likely killed, says Skylar McElhaney, spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality.

The cause of these fish-kills is mysterious, but a pattern is emerging.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

This year, Oklahoma has had more earthquakes than California. There is a growing body of scientific research that suggests oil and gas production is fueling this increase in seismic activity.

new paper published today in the journal Science, suggests a small number of wastewater wells used in drilling operations could be responsible for many of the quakes.

KGOU/Laura Knoll

June 1, 2014

This is from the Manager’s Desk.

This week, I’m touring KGOU’s services in digital spaces.  Start with the web page at KGOU!  Of course the local news and programs from KGOU are there, plus NPR news, but the Calendar section of local non-profit events is amazing. 

There is an easy way to view the site on your mobile phone or tablet, and an RSS feed for each of KGOU’s regular features.  Stay here and look around, bookmark the site, subscribe to the RSS feeds, listen to the live stream, and make a donation.

KGOU also maintains Facebook pages for KGOU News, the Weekend Blues, and Indian Times, and Twitter feeds for KGOU News and World Views.

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