In The Know: Mounting evidence says injection wells cause state’s earthquake surge

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

A range of papers published this month indicate that wastewater injection wells are behind Oklahoma’s earthquake surge. StateImpact has collected eight takeaways from the new research. With 378 earthquakes so far this year, the state is well on track to break the state record for earthquakes in a single year (584 quakes, in 2014). Governor Fallin has signed bills regulating the release of police body cam footage and allowing counties to borrow money from the state to help pay for converting vehicles to run on compressed natural gas. A new report from the White House Council of Economic Advisers highlights the opportunities for better health and stronger economies available to states that, like Oklahoma, have refused to accept federal funds to expand health coverage for low-income residents. The full report is available here. Expansion’s track record in other states has shown that it’s a good deal for Oklahoma.

Writing in the Journal Record, Arnold Hamilton of The Oklahoma Observer argued against actions that would weaken the Oklahoma Ethics Commission. Following news that the state was disregarding scores from the state’s writing test for the second year in a row, an Oklahoma Watch investigation found that state officials are concerned with qualifications of the tests’ graders, who are paid $11.50 an hour and may be recruited on Craigslist. Tulsa and Oklahoma City saw their jobless rates creep upward in April. A new initiative in Tulsa aims to end veteran homelessness and chronic homelessness by 2016. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit that led to the Pinnacle Plan have issued a letter claiming that the state is failing to make adequate progress to improve the state’s foster care system and calling for an arbitration process.

The Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission, which oversees the state’s waterways, will lose nearly one-quarter of its currently funding when next year’s budget kicks in on July 1. The first two human cases of the West Nile virus in 2015 have been confirmed in Oklahoma. The Number of the Day is 109,500 – the estimated number of people employed by women-owned businesses in Oklahoma in 2015. In today’s Policy Note, The New Republic argues that the best way to get conservative legislators to support paid leave is to show them that it works.

In The News

Mounting evidence says injection wells cause Oklahoma’s earthquake surge

Mounting evidence pointing to wastewater disposal wells as the culprit behind a six-fold increase in earthquakes in Oklahoma has now placed the onus on government and industry to determine whether current actions are sufficient or more solutions are needed to stop the damage. The latest studies are in a June special section of The Leading Edge, a journal of the Tulsa-based Society of Exploration Geophysicists that provides a forum for scholarly discussion.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

See also: Eight Quick Takeaways From a Bunch of New Oklahoma Earthquake Research from StateImpact.

Oklahoma on pace to easily break state record for earthquakes

Oklahoma is on pace for nearly 1,000 earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 or greater in 2015, a total that would nearly double the state’s previous record. In just five months, Oklahoma has recorded a total of 378 earthquakes of at least a 3.0 magnitude. That total is only slightly fewer than were totaled in all of 2014, when the Sooner state faced a record 584 earthquakes of at least that magnitude.

Read more from The Tulsa Frontier.

Oklahoma Governor Signs Police Body Camera Footage Measure

Legislation that governs the public release of video from body cameras worn by law enforcement officers has been signed into law by Gov. Mary Fallin. The measure signed on Thursday allows for the release of body camera videos — with some exceptions.

Read more from KGOU.

Legislation lets counties borrow money for CNG conversion

Cleveland County Commissioner Rod Cleveland’s office saved more than $2,000 in fuel costs last year. A bill signed by Gov. Mary Fallin on Thursday promises to extend those savings to other counties throughout the state.

Read more from NewsOK.

White House report shows how Oklahoma could benefit from expanding Medicaid

Accepting federal dollars to expand Medicaid would make Oklahomans healthier and would save money for residents and the state budget, according to a report released Thursday by the White House Council of Economic Advisers. The council estimates that 127,000 more Oklahomans would be insured with Medicaid expansion, which is a key provision in President Barack Obama’s health-care law.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Read the report here.

See also: Medicaid Expansion’s Track Record Shows It’s a Good Deal for Oklahoma from OK Policy.

Getting rid of ethics

Oxymorons were made for the government-political realm. Bureaucratic efficiency. Political science. Government organization. Military intelligence. Friendly fire. This week, state Rep. Justin Wood revived a doozy: legislative ethics.

Read more from The Journal Record.

Concerns Raised on Use of Temp Agency Test Graders

Earlier this week, state Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said she was dropping the state’s writing test from the A-F grading equation for schools this year because the test and results were unreliable. The test vendor wasn’t an issue, she said. Oklahoma Watch, however, learned that school officials are questioning the quality of people grading the tests.

Read more from Oklahoma Watch.

Oklahoma City, Tulsa Record Increase In Jobless Rates

Unemployment rates in the Tulsa and Oklahoma City metropolitan areas have increased in April. According to federal and state data released Wednesday, the Tulsa area’s unemployment rate rose to 3.8 percent from March’s 3.6 percent rate.

Read more from New9.

Tulsa Leaders On A Mission To End Homelessness By 2016

Tulsa leaders are on a mission to try to end homelessness by 2016. Thursday, 24 organizations kicked off the Zero: 2016 campaign. The first goal is ending veteran homelessness, and the second is putting a stop to chronic homelessness.

Read more from NewsOn6.

Plaintiffs in DHS foster-care lawsuit argue for court intervention now

Adequate progress is not being made in improving Oklahoma’s foster-care system to reach the goals in the Pinnacle Plan agreement, so court intervention is needed to spur faster change, a recent letter claims. Plaintiffs in a federal class-action lawsuit wrote to the monitors of the improvement plan asking to invoke the “dispute resolution process mechanism,” which is an arbitration process.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Agency That Protects Oklahoma’s Scenic Rivers Takes Another Big Budget Cut

When Governor Mary Fallin signed the $7.1 billion budget earlier this week, the Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission took a big cut. It’s a small state agency with a big job: overseeing hundreds of miles of river and roads in northeast Oklahoma with dwindling resources.

Read more from StateImpact.

West Nile found in residents of Okfuskee and McIntosh counties in Oklahoma

West Nile virus has been found in residents of Okfuskee and McIntosh counties, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health. The two reports are the first human cases of the virus this year. No deaths have been reported.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Quote of the Day

“We cannot provide all the services that we have been accustomed to providing. We are operating on a model from the ’80s and funding from the ’80s levels. We’re down to four full-time employees. I would have never thought that I would see that when I went to work in 1983.”

– Ed Fite, administrator for the Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission, whose budget was cut by one-quarter, to $270,000, in the most recent legislative session. (Source)

Number of the Day


Estimated number of people employed by woman-owned businesses in Oklahoma in 2015

Source: Womenable’s 2015 State of Women-Owned Businesses.

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

How Do You Get GOP Lawmakers to Support Paid Leave? Show Them That It Works.

When Rhode Island became the most recent (and third) state to adopt a paid family leave policy in July of 2013, the passage of the law was accompanied by predictable grumbling by GOP state lawmakers. State legislator Joseph Trillo said the law was “wide open for abuse.” “I’m very concerned about what will happen,” GOP lawmaker Doreen Costa said. Patricia Morgan, another GOP representative, complained, “in a year when we’re trying to improve business, this is not helping.” Eighteen months after the law went into effect in January of 2014, some lawmakers remain as staunchly opposed to the mandate as they were when it passed.

Read more from The New Republic.

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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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