Oklahoma

fischerfotos / Flickr Creative Commons

The Oklahoma Supreme Court has rejected a change to a criminal justice reform question on the November ballot, reports The Tulsa World. The controversy has to do with the explanation of a law change voters will see on the ballot in November.

News 9

Two Oklahoma contracting companies have settled claims over a fire at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in southwestern Oklahoma, reports News 9 Oklahoma.

Sue Ogrocki / AP photo

The number of earthquakes in Oklahoma has fallen 25% this year, reports The Wall Street Journal. The decline comes after the state’s efforts to curb the oil and gas industry’s practice of pumping wastewater from its underground operations.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

If you didn’t know better, you might think Western Oklahoma was in the midst of an aviation renaissance. Of late, there’s been a rush to register private airstrips in rural areas, reports StateImpact Oklahoma. But these new landing areas aren’t planning to attract travel. They were created to keep wind turbines out.

Todd Wiseman / Texas Tribune

Health advocates cheered this week when Oklahoma officials announced they were considering expanding Medicaid in that state. Oklahoma has been missing out on millions of federal health care dollars with its decision to not participate in the Affordable Care Act. But with ballooning budget problems and rising health care costs in the state, opting out no longer seems viable. And that means Texas could be next, reports member station KUT.

Nick Oxford / Reuters

As Oklahoma’s earthquake frequency exploded, so did the rates of insurance companies covering the damages. Reuters reporter Luc Cohen recently examined thousands of pages of documents from the Oklahoma Insurance Commission.

The Ada News

This week marked the 83rd anniversary of the first White House performance by the Chickasaw storyteller Te Ata. Te Ata was a graduate of the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma, reports The Ada News. She performed at the first state dinner of Franklin Roosevelt’s presidency in 1933.

KFOR.com

Officials in Oklahoma are now using advanced technology in an attempt to get ahead of the spate of earthquakes caused by fracking and wastewater disposal by oil and gas companies. The technology is much needed, as the third largest earthquake in state history was recorded last month.

New seismic sensors have now been put in place to locate and determine the size of the nearest fault line to the big quake’s location in Fairview, reports KFOR. The Oklahoma Geological Survey has also installed a broadband seismometer, an instrument that locates earthquake sources.

Oklahoma Corporation Commission / Rural Blog

Oklahoma has announced a new plan to slow the staggering rise of earthquakes in the state, reports The Rural Blog. The earthquakes have been linked to fracking and wastewater disposal performed by the oil and gas industry. The new plan will cover more than 5,200 square miles of central Oklahoma.

Source: WalletHub  

American state capitals aren’t always the most exciting places in the nation. Often, these cities serve as seats of government, and not much more. Think Carson City, NV, or Charleston, WV. But the economic website Wallethub has found that many state capitals are, in fact, thriving—and they’re great places to live. The site has now ranked the best and worst state capitals to live in, and High Plains states did fairly well in the rankings.

In fact, Austin, Texas, is listed as the most livable state capital in the country, and Lincoln, Nebraska, came in second. Colorado cracked the top 15, with Denver coming in at number 13. Topeka had a decent showing, landing at number 20, just ahead of Oklahoma City at number 21.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

The tiny town of Corn, Oklahoma, in Washita County has big problems. The lagoon that’s supposed to hold the town’s wastewater has holes in it, reports member station KOSU. Repairing the lagoon will take hundreds of thousands of dollars. And Corn doesn’t have the money. The tiny community will need to take out a loan to fix the water problem.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Fees and federal dollars pay for many of Oklahoma’s air and land programs. But the water system is funded by the state. And when it comes to paying for oversight and inspection of its local water systems, Oklahoma is failing, according to member station KOSU. Oklahoma’s Department of Environmental Quality, like many government agencies in the state, has faced years of funding cuts. Legislative appropriations have declined by roughly 30 percent since 2009.

Sue Ogrocki / AP photo

Oklahoma state officials set out a couple of years ago to find which buildings in the state were most vulnerable to earthquakes. Today, lawmakers are no closer to knowing which structures would be most likely to collapse, reports NewsOK. That’s because the team of experts the state hired never performed the work requested of them. The team balked out of fears they might be held liable should their predictions prove wrong.

Oklahoma Fails to Plan for Hard Times

Dec 19, 2015
Joe Wertz / Governor Mary Fallin and other state leaders watch a PowerPoint presentation of state revenue projections in 2014.

Oklahoma has been experiencing a budget crisis since the price of oil plummeted. But much of the problem is the state’s own fault, reports member station KOSU and the Associated Press. Even when Oklahoma's economy was roaring thanks to an oil boom, the state was slashing taxes. During the good times, the state was expanding class sizes and eliminating teachers because costly tax cuts were eating up surplus revenue. Republican Gov.

Bigfoot Legend is Big Business in Southeastern OK

Dec 18, 2015
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

The legend of Bigfoot in Southeastern Oklahoma is growing—and rumors of the creature are attracting more tourists, reports StateImpact Oklahoma. Bigfoot stories go back generations in this area. There was even a low-budget 1972 horror movie called The Legend of Boggy Creek, about a creature across the border in southern Arkansas.

Sue Ogrocki / AP photo

Sandra Ladra, a resident of Prague, Oklahoma, was injured during a 2011 earthquake. Mounting evidence has shown that the earthquakes were caused by the injection of wastewater from fracking. So Sandra decided to sue the oil and gas companies that operate injection wells in her area.

The Wall Street Journal has published a debate about whether oil companies should be held liable for injuries caused by the quakes.

comedy_nose / Flickr Creative Commons

Oklahoma has been paying tens of thousands of dollars to administer a writing test for three straight years—with no results. According to KGOU's Oklahoma Watch, concerns have been raised about the writing test’s validity, and changing standards mean new tests must continually be created.

In Oklahoma, Continued Tilling Could Bring Trouble

Sep 22, 2015
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Tilling and planting on the same land in Oklahoma for generations has left the soil in poor shape. And StateImpact Oklahoma warns that if farmers don’t change the way they grow crops, there will be trouble.

Lake-Murray.org

Oklahoma is considering installing a gun range in the state’s largest and oldest state park. NPR member station KGOU reports that state tourism officials are weighing plans for an outdoor sports shooting complex, which would be built at Lake Murray State Park. The proposal has generated complaints that the gun range could disturb the park’s ambience.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

When President Obama announced his Clean Power Plan to cut power plant emissions, he enraged Oklahoma leaders. But researchers and officials now say that the effort to could create new opportunities in Oklahoma, reports StateImpact.

Creative Commons

The Oklahoman recently published an editorial calling for creative solutions to the Oklahoma teacher shortage. The state currently has about 1,000 teacher vacancies. That’s even after the state eliminated 600 teaching jobs during the last school year. The state has seen large rallies over the past couple of years. Protestors decried the fact that Oklahoma ranks near the bottom nationally in average salary for teachers.

The Oklahoma State Fair: What's on the Menu?

Sep 1, 2015
KFOR.com

In regional news, the Oklahoma State Fair is approaching. News station KFOR reports that fair officials have just released a list of foods that will appear at the fairgrounds.  

USGS

A recent Standard & Poor report maintains that Oklahoma will face sharp economic consequences in the future as a result of man-made earthquakes.

In Oklahoma, Bees are Vanishing

Aug 25, 2015
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma lost a greater percentage of its honeybee colonies than any other state last year. As a result, beekeepers, scientists, and farmers met in Oklahoma City this month to create a plan to help pollinating insects survive. As reported by StateImpact Oklahoma, the meeting  focused on ways to balance the use of pesticides with an understanding of the chemicals’ dangers to pollinators.  

Oklahoma Lags Behind Nation in Solar Usage

Aug 3, 2015
U.S. Department of Energy / National Renewable Energy Laboratory

In Oklahoma, oil and gas are king. The state is also a powerhouse when it comes to wind energy, ranking fourth in the nation.  But when it comes to solar energy, the state has some catching up to do, according to StateImpact, a reporting project of NPR stations. Oklahoma’s deficiencies in the area of solar energy have nothing to do with the sun, and everything to do with state policy.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Here’s a quiz: the nation’s most inland seaport exists in what state? There are pretty good odds you didn’t guess Oklahoma, but in fact the Port of Catoosa handles two and a half million tons of wheat, fertilizer, steel, and manufacturing goods each year.

From outside of Tulsa, these resources head down the Verdigris River, to the Arkansas River, then east to the Mississippi and onward to Pittsburgh and Chicago. From there, these goods can move up through the great lakes to New York, Europe, or anywhere in the world.

Wikimedia Commons

The increasing rate of earthquakes in Oklahoma has resulted in a crackdown on disposal wells in the state, reports StateImpact, a reporting project of NPR member stations. Last year, Oklahoma experienced nearly 600 earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 or larger. This year, the state has already suffered 500 such earthquakes.

Creative Commons

President Obama visited Oklahoma on Wednesday, and stopped by Durant to speak to the Choctaw Nation about expanding economic opportunities, reports KFOR. The president gave a speech focusing on improving conditions for all kinds of American communities, including the Choctaw Nation.

Creative Commons

Oklahoma may be one of the first states to repeal Common Core and draft completely new standards, Public Radio Tulsa reports.  Meanwhile, after repealing the Common Core goals, the state has instituted new academic standards in math and English, that in some ways go beyond Common core requirements. For example, elementary school students will be expected to write research papers, and high school students will need to know the “why”s behind mathematical formulas.

Sarah Nichols / Flickr

McAlister, Oklahoma, has had a ban on oil drilling within its city limits since 1974. But now Governor Mary Fallin has signed controversial legislation outlawing municipal drilling bans, and the mayor of this small town in southeastern Oklahoma isn’t happy, reports KOSU. In fact, he wrote a eulogy for the death of his town’s 41-year old drilling ban, referring to the ordinance by the name “Ordie.” The requiem  reads, in part, “Ordie . . .

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