Joe Wertz

Reporter for StateImpact Oklahoma

Joe has previously served as Managing Editor of Urban Tulsa Weekly, as the Arts & Entertainment Editor at Oklahoma Gazette and worked as a Staff Writer for The Oklahoman. Joe was a weekly correspondent for KGOU from 2007-2010. He grew up in Bartlesville, Okla., lives in Oklahoma City, and studied journalism at the University of Central Oklahoma.

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Politics and Government
1:28 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

State Equalization Board Certifies Revenue For Next Year, Income Tax Cut Triggered

Gov. Mary Fallin and other state leaders observe a PowerPoint presentation of revenue projections.
Joe Wertz StateImpact Oklahoma

The State Board of Equalization met Thursday to certify state revenues for Gov. Mary Fallin's budgeting ahead of the next legislative session and fiscal year. Oklahoma has enough revenue to trigger an income tax cut.

The amount of money available to fund state government is trending flat, but officials say lackluster revenues seem manageable.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
10:45 am
Thu December 18, 2014

StateImpact’s Biggest Stories Of 2014 And A Preview Of Reporting In The Coming Year

Brothers and business partners Fred and Wayne Schmedt stand in their family's wheat field near Altus in southwest Oklahoma.
Joe Wertz StateImpact Oklahoma

StateImpact racked up thousands of miles traveling across the state this year, filing more than 40 radio stories and hundreds of web posts on how government energy, environmental and economic policy affects ordinary Oklahomans. And many of those stories involve issues that are ongoing.

EPA Regulations

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StateImpact Oklahoma
6:47 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

Depletion Of Ogallala Aquifer Likely Caused By Irrigation, USGS Says

Center pivot irrigation in southwestern Oklahoma.
cstoddard Flickr Creative Commons

Groundwater pumping for agricultural irrigation is likely responsible for substantial depletions of the Ogallala Aquifer, which underlies 175,000 square miles in Oklahoma and seven other states, a report by the U.S. Geological Survey suggests.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
7:04 pm
Mon December 15, 2014

Lawmaker to Propose Legislation Changing Tax Incentives For New Wind Farms

A wind farm in Ellis County in western Oklahoma.
Credit Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma Representative Earl Sears, is planning to file legislation modifying tax credits and incentives used by wind energy developers.

The legislation by Sears, R-Bartlesville, would only affect new wind projects and would target three tax credits used by the wind industry: Zero Emission Energy Generation, the five-year ad valorem exemption for manufacturers and other firms, and investment tax credits,  eCapitol’s Shawn Ashley reports:

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StateImpact Oklahoma
10:07 am
Fri December 12, 2014

Mapped: Oklahoma’s Dams And The Potential Hazards They Pose

Explore Oklahoma’s dams with StateImpact’s interactive map detailing their age, type, owner, hazard classification and reported failures.

Oklahoma has the fifth-largest dam inventory in the United States. Ownership of the 4,700 dams is largely split between government agencies and private entities, including individual owners and other organizations like homeowner’s associations.

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Politics and Government
7:48 am
Tue December 9, 2014

Oklahoma AG Scott Pruitt Says ‘Alliance’ With Energy Industry Wasn’t Secret

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt prepares to greet Gov. Mary Fallin at the 2013 State of the State address at the state Capitol.
Joe Wertz StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt confirmed Monday that he has worked with the energy industry to push back against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Obama administration’s regulatory agenda, but denied how The New York Times characterized those efforts, which were detailed in a story published over the weekend.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
12:22 pm
Mon December 8, 2014

How Low Oil Prices Could Block An Oklahoma Tax Cut

Richard Masoner Flickr.com

Gov. Mary Fallin in April 2014 signed into law a measure designed to gradually lower Oklahoma’s top income tax rate to 4.85 percent from 5.25 percent.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
8:45 am
Thu December 4, 2014

Scrutiny Of Subsidies Could Test The Economics Of Wind Energy In Oklahoma

NextEra Renewable Energy Resources' wind farm near Elk City, Okla.
Joe Wertz StateImpact Oklahoma

The 2015 session is still months away, but the newly elected Oklahoma Legislature has already started talking about how to divvy up roughly $7 billion in state appropriations.

Some prominent lawmakers are promising to re-examine tax credits and economic incentives worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Some of those incentives are used for wind energy, which the industry says are working.

Big Wind

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StateImpact Oklahoma
8:51 am
Wed December 3, 2014

Corporation Commission Considering Wind Energy Regulations

A wind farm outside of Woodward in northwestern Oklahoma.
Logan Layden StateImpact Oklahoma

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission on Tuesday ended its four-month inquiry into wind energy development in Oklahoma. The examination could lead to new rules, though it’s not clear what they might be or which agency would enforce them.

The commission heard from vocal landowners for and against wind farms. Developers lauded the economic potential of Oklahoma’s wind, while conservationists and Indian tribes warned that, left unchecked, turbines would kill threatened bird species and ruin delicate grasslands.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
6:26 am
Tue December 2, 2014

State Regulators: Stricter Ozone Standard Would Be Hard For Oklahoma To Meet

Ozone is a major contributor to smog, seen here blanketing Los Angeles.
Credit Pieter Edelman / Flickr

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal for stricter ozone standards has been praised by environmentalists as a step in the right direction and derided by industry groups, which argue the rules will cost jobs and lead to higher prices for electricity and natural gas.

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