In The Know: 17 quakes rattle state overnight

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Today In The News

17 quakes — one tied for fourth largest in Oklahoma history — rattle state overnight: Two large earthquakes — one that tied for fourth largest in state history — struck near a town in northwestern Oklahoma less than a minute apart Wednesday night followed by 15 smaller quakes in the same region. The United States Geological Survey reported a 4.7-magnitude earthquake about 20 miles northwest of Fairview at 10:27 p.m., followed 30 seconds later by a 4.8 quake a kilometer away. The two temblors were about 2 and 3.5 miles deep, respectively [Tulsa World]. 

NYSE delists SandRidge stock after price hits 15 cents a share: The New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday removed SandRidge Energy Inc. from trading, citing “abnormally low” stock prices. Shares of the Oklahoma City-based oil and natural gas company dropped 2 cents, or nearly 12 percent, to an all-time low of 15 cents a share Wednesday before the notice was issued. SandRidge shares have tumbled 94 percent over the past year in concert with falling oil and natural gas prices as the company also dealt with a heavy debt burden. The stock is down from an all-time high of $68 in 2008 [NewsOK].

Oklahoma Oil Firm Resists Call to Shut Down Wells Amid Earthquake Concerns: A financially strapped Oklahoma oil company is defying the state regulator’s request that it shut down six wells used to dispose of wastewater, despite fears they may be contributing to earthquakes. Sandridge Energy Inc., which has complied with similar requests in the past, said this time it won’t stop using its wastewater disposal wells, which are part of the company’s oil-and-gas fracking operations [Wall Street Journal].

Despite few payouts on claims, more Oklahomans are buying quake insurance: More Oklahomans are buying earthquake insurance, even though most polices have high deductibles and may not cover damage quakes caused by energy exploration activity. The direct premiums written for earthquake insurance coverage in Oklahoma rose 25 percent in 2014 to $16.437 million, up from $13.107 million in 2013, according to SNL Financial [NewsOK]. 

Upcoming Event: ‘Dream On’ Film Screening: OK Policy and the OSU Forum of Geography Graduate Students will host a screening of the new documentary Dream On at OSU-Stillwater on Tuesday, January 19th at 6:30pm. In an epic road trip, political comedian John Fugelsang retraces the journey of Alexis de Tocqueville to investigate the perilous state of the American Dream after decades of rising income inequality and declining economic mobility [OK Policy].

Weighing in on OKC’s panhandling ordinance: A new, controversial ordinance now in effect across Oklahoma City has many panhandlers upset and expecting rough, hungry days ahead [NewsOK]. Wayne, who panhandles at the corner of Northwest Expressway and Rockwell Avenue, says he needs the money for medicine for himself and his wife [NewsOK]. For the first thirty days that the ordinance is in effect, police officers will be handing out information sheets explaining the new panhandling guidelines [NewsOK]. The panhandling ordinance is part of a disturbing trend of criminalizing poverty [OK Policy].

We heart Oklahoma: There’s little doubt that 2016 is going to be a rough, rough year for Oklahoma. Falling energy prices. Job layoffs. Earthquakes. Billion-dollar budget shortfalls. Public schools and safety net providers in crisis. As a columnist and think-tank director, I know I’ll have no shortage of occasions to express worry and even despair about the problems we face [David Blatt / Journal Record].

Oklahomans Start Petition To Stop Turnpike Expansion: A petition drive to halt state plans to extend the Oklahoma Turnpike is gaining traction in Northeastern Oklahoma County.  Governor Mary Fallin and the Turnpike Authority announced the nearly $900 million expansion three months ago. Turnpike Spokesman Jack Damrill said it will be late spring or early summer before planners decide what the specific new routes will be [News9]. 

Cost Of December Storms Adding Up For Oklahoma Department Of Transportation: Thunderstorms, blizzards, flooding — Oklahoma saw them all last month, and the cost of responding to them is adding up for the department of transportation. ODOT sent crews out to treat slick roads and help motorists navigate highways with lanes closed because of ice and snow. They’re also assessing damage caused by ice storms and heavy rain [KGOU].

Quote of the Day

“We don’t write a lot of those tickets anyway because we know they can’t pay it. We want them to get off the median so that they’re not out there causing accidents and becoming parts of accidents.”

– Maj. Dexter Nelson of the Oklahoma City Police Department, on the city’s anti-panhandling ordinance. Nelson says that police are distributing informational sheets on the ordinance in lieu of writing tickets for the first 30 days the law is in effect (Source).

Number of the Day


Average age of Oklahoma state legislators.

Source: Pew Charitable Trusts.

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

How Major Industries Are Driving Population Shifts: Like other Florida counties, Lake County experienced a population boom for several years, fueled in part by retirees. Then the Great Recession hit, and with it the growth came to a near halt. The county outside of Orlando saw its population jump 37 percent between 2000 and 2007, but in the seven years since, it has increased just under 9 percent. Other retirement destinations experienced similar slowdowns, and the same can be said of regions relying on tourism. It’s these types of population changes that illustrate how an area’s fate is tied to its major industries [Governing].

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Carly Putnam joined OK Policy in 2013. As Policy Director, she supervises policy research and strategy. She previously worked as an OK Policy intern, and she was OK Policy's health care policy analyst through July 2020. She graduated from the University of Tulsa in 2013. As a student, she was a participant in the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute and interned with Planned Parenthood. Carly is a graduate of the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits Nonprofit Management Certification; the Oklahoma Developmental Disabilities Council’s Partners in Policymaking; The Mine, a social entrepreneurship fellowship in Tulsa; and Leadership Tulsa Class 62. She currently serves on the boards of Restore Hope Ministries and The Arc of Oklahoma. In her free time, she enjoys reading, cooking, and doing battle with her hundred year-old house.

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