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StateImpact Oklahoma

dead fish in dry riverbed
OakleyOriginals / Flickr Creative Commons

Tulsa has been spared the worst effects of Oklahoma’s drought, which has been concentrated in western and southwestern regions of the state.

350.org / Flickr Creative Commons

A Sept. 21 protest against the Keystone XL Pipeline attracted 74 people who walked a portion of the pipeline’s proposed route, The Journal Record reports.

State Farm / Flickr Creative Commons

When the massive EF5 tornado ripped through Moore on May 20, it took out homes and business alike. Since then, the Moore City Council has been considering updating building codes to make homes safer. But as the Journal Record‘s Molly M. Flemming reports, the city’s construction standards for commercial buildings aren’t being altered much:

Those codes are likely to stay the same, with one slight change.

OG&E's coal-fired power plant in Muskogee.
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

The clash between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Oklahoma Gas & Electric over pollution from coal-fired power plants continues to escalate.

On Tuesday, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt and OG&E both asked the 10thU.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider its July decision in favor of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. At issue was whether EPA has the authority to usurp the state’s plan for limiting haze on federal land; a plan EPA has deemed inadequate.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Many Oklahomans are excited about the promise of wind energy, and the state is moving up the national ranks in wind power capacity.

But some are turning their backs on wind turbines, and the struggle highlights the challenges of regulating renewable energy.

When Tammy and Rick Huffstutlar bought their home and acreage 35 years ago, they were excited about living on a farm. But for the last year, Tammy says she’s been living in the middle of an industrial park.

A worker inspects a segment of the Keystone Pipeline before it's lowered into a trench near Stroud, Okla.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

President Obama is still deciding whether to approve the northern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would unlock vast supplies of Canadian tar sands oil for the U.S. and global markets.

During a major climate speech in June, Obama reiterated his support for the project, with one stipulation:

Global Energy Network Institute

Oklahoma has a lot of wind energy potential, and the state’s overall capacity for wind-powered electricity generation is growing.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

There’s a report out from a group of environmental organizations including Waterkeeper Alliance and the Sierra Club that says there are “essentially no limits” on the amounts toxic metals coal-fired power plants can dump into Oklahoma’s waterways.

RANDOMTRUTH / Flickr Creative Commons

Oklahoma’s environment is under attack.

Crops, pastures, trees and wildlife habitats are being threatened. Even cemetery headstones are in the line of fire, Reuters reports.

The Pig Army has declared war on Oklahoma, and farmers and ranchers are doing their best to fight back. But the ranks of this battalion of wild boars aren’t filled with pot-bellies, the news services’ Kevin Murphy reports:

Doug Wertman / Flickr Creative Commons

The summer was tough on the Grand River Dam Authority’s relationship with Gov. Mary Fallin.

It started when the GRDA announced plans earlier this year to spend almost $400 million to build a new natural gas power plant, and upgrade its newest coal-fired plant in compliance with new federal regulations.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Coal mining can cause a lot of damage to the landscape, and the federal government has rules about how mining companies are supposed to treat the land after they’re done with it.

Basically, they’re supposed to return it to approximately what it was like before.

The federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement is charged with making sure the Oklahoma Department of Mines is enforcing that rule. If the Oklahoma mining regulator doesn’t, the feds can step in and take over that role.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The Oklahoma Tourism Commission on June 26 voted to strip Hugo Lake of its state park status, citing low attendance.

The commission acted “quietly,” but State Sen. Jerry Ellis (D-Valliant) responded loudly, The Journal Record’s M. Scott Carter reports:

On Aug. 2, Ellis sent a letter to Republican Gov. Mary Fallin asking that the Tourism Commission reconsider the status of the park using factual information.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Limestone mining on Longhorn Mountain, northwest of Lawton, could start anytime. The company that leases the land on the western side has a permit to mine, and just needs to put up some bond money with the state Department of Mines to get started.

This is a surprise to the Kiowa Tribe, which has used Longhorn Mountain for hundreds of years as a temple where tribe members pray, have vision quests and retrieve sacred cedar used in many rituals.

But the mining shouldn’t come as a surprise. Cushing, Okla.-based Material Service Corporation — and President Larry Stewart — has had a permit for a 370-acre mine on the site for almost 10 years. It’s up to the company to decide when and whether to go forward with the project.

Olliehigh / Flickr Creative Commons

Oklahoma City already depends on water from southeastern Oklahoma, but the 60-inch, 100-mile pipeline from Lake Atoka ain’t enough.

Provided / The Sierra Club

The Sierra Club has filed a lawsuit against Oklahoma Gas & Electric Co., the state’s largest electric utility, alleging the company violated the federal Clean Air Act by modifying a coal burner at its Muskogee power plant without “planning for increased levels of air pollution and failing to obtain a permit from state regulators.”

SFC Kendall James / U.S. Department of Defense

Editor's Note: This is part one in StateImpact Oklahoma's "Twister Truths" series where we use data to kick the tires on the conventional wisdom underlying severe weather policy in Oklahoma.

In Oklahoma, state and local emergency authorities emphasize individual shelters in peoples’ homes over communal shelters in schools or other civic buildings. As we reported here, almost all the federal disaster funding the state receives has been directed to rebates for the construction of residential shelters and safe rooms.

texas longhorns grazing in a field
jaxx2kde / Flickr Creative Commons

For almost 150 years, the Kiowa Tribe has used Longhorn Mountain for ceremonies and to gather the cedar used to purify their homes. But tribal leaders say the sacred site is being threatened by gravel mining.

Two of the mountain’s five private landowners have leased water and property rights to Cushing-based Material Service of Oklahoma, Inc. Kristi Eaton reports with the Associated Press reports:

boy walking through rubble
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Since the deadly tornadoes that struck the state this spring, StateImpact has been taking a look at Oklahoma’s severe weather policy, and asking questions like: Why aren’t there more safe rooms in schools?

OETA

StateImpact joined OETA journalists Dick Pryor and Bob Sands and Journal Record energy reporter Sarah Terry-Cobo for an Oklahoma Forum discussion about threats to the state’s air, land and water.

LLudo / Flickr Creative Commons

Moore, Norman and Oklahoma City are the primary polluters of Lake Thunderbird, a sensitive drinking water source classified as “impaired” by the Environmental Protection Agency, new data show.

State and municipal water and environmental authorities have been working on a plan to clean up the lake, colloquially referred to as “dirtybird” for its murky appearance and weird smell, which still hasn’t met Clean Water Act target dates from 30 years ago.

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