Utility giant aims to build America’s biggest wind farm paid for by customers

March 30, 2018 by  
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One of the United States’ biggest electric utilities, American Electric Power (AEP) is planning to build a two-gigawatt wind farm – and they want consumers to pay for it. Bloomberg reports that the $4.5 billion Wind Catcher Energy Connection project could serve people in four states. People in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, and Louisiana could get power from AEP’s massive wind farm sprawling over 300,000 acres in the Oklahoma Panhandle. But Bloomberg said there’s a battle mounting over the project: AEP hopes to obtain up-front guarantees from regulators that consumers will foot the bill. Utilities have used the financial model of putting costs and a profit into customers’ bills to construct coal, nuclear, or natural gas power plants. But according to Bloomberg, AEP is pushing the limits by requesting permission to employ the strategy from regulators in four states. Related: Conservative billionaire to build America’s largest wind farm Critics say consumers could be saddled with the bill should the project fall apart. An Oklahoma administrative law judge advised regulators in February to reject the request. Bloomberg New Energy Finance wind power analyst Alex Morgan said that the industry — hoping to grow with the model — could take a hit if AEP fails. If they are unsuccessful, she said the next step might be smaller projects. The Wind Catcher website states that farm “is expected to bring approximately $300 million to local communities in property taxes over the life of the project and provide a cost savings of $7 billion over 25 years for customers. The project will support approximately 4,000 direct and 4,400 indirect jobs annually during construction and 80 permanent jobs once operational.” Warren Buffet’s MidAmerican Energy scored approval in 2016 to recover costs on a $3.6 billion wind project, according to Bloomberg. It could be as large as two gigawatts, making it around the size of Wind Catcher. The difference is that a group of small wind farms on several sites comprises the MidAmerican Energy project, whereas AEP’s project is one huge wind farm. + Wind Catcher Energy Connection Via Bloomberg Images via Depositphotos ( 1 , 2 )

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Utility giant aims to build America’s biggest wind farm paid for by customers

Trump’s EPA pick put industries before federal environmental policies

January 16, 2017 by  
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You may have heard Scott Pruitt, President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), sued that agency 14 times. And you may have heard Pruitt denies climate change is a problem that ought to be addressed. These two facts alone cast doubt on Pruitt’s suitability for the role, but there’s more. During his six years as Oklahoma’s Attorney General, Pruitt eschewed federal environmental policies in favor of working with polluting industries, many of which donated to his campaign. When Pruitt first took office, he stepped into a legal battle over Oklahoma waters polluted with chicken manure. He could have pushed for punishment for poultry companies, asking for federal help to extract millions of dollars in damages, but instead Pruitt negotiated a quiet deal to further study the problem, rather than address it. Lawyers and executives of the poultry industry had contributed thousands of dollars to his campaign before he made the deal. The New York Times pointed out this instance was only one of several where Pruitt prioritized industries, including fossil fuel and agriculture companies, and attempted to soften the blow of federal environmental policies. Related: Donald Trump taps fossil-fuel funded climate change denier to head EPA Mark Derichsweiler, who led a Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality division tasked with cleaning up the manure, told The New York Times, “He has advocated and stood up for the profits of business, be it the poultry companies or the energy industry and other polluters, at the expense of people who have to drink the water or breathe the air.” Conservative groups say Pruitt prefers letting states handle environmental policies rather than the federal government. But environmental issues often concern multiple states; in the chicken manure incident, much of the pollution actually came from Arkansas. Environmental Defense Fund president Fred Krupp told The New York Times, “The president’s choices deserve a lot of deference from Congress and even environmental groups. But at some point when the nominee has spend his entire career attempting to dismantle environmental protections, it become unacceptable. That’s why Mr. Pruitt is the first EPA nominee from either party that the Environmental Defense Fund has opposed in our 50-year history.” Via The New York Times Images via Wikimedia Commons and Gage Skidmore on Flickr

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Oklahoma earthquake activity up 4000%, locals sue oil and gas companies

November 22, 2016 by  
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Earthquake activity in Oklahoma has increased by around 4,000 percent over the past eight years, according to Carnegie Mellon University . Concerned about the dramatic rise, Carnegie Mellon and University of Pittsburgh researchers published two studies scrutinizing the connection between heightened seismic activity and wastewater injection into the earth after hydraulic fracturing, or fracking . Meanwhile, Oklahoma residents are suing 27 natural gas and oil companies over earthquake damage. Just in 2015, Oklahoma residents experienced 907 quakes with a magnitude of 3 or higher , up from 585 the year before and just 109 in 2013. A spike in earthquakes combined with what researchers call an impressive monitoring network afforded a prime opportunity to study the earthquakes. There are a couple of reasons why wastewater disposal after fracking might be causing all that seismic activity. Related: USGS, EPA investigate link between underground wastewater disposal and Oklahoma’s largest earthquake The report’s lead author, Pengyun Wang of Carnegie Mellon University, said fluid diffusion can reach stressed fault lines, which can slip and cause earthquakes. Or if the wastewater enters an underground reservoir close to a fault line, the new increased weight of the reservoir can stress those fault lines. Wang hoped their findings might be useful for both regulators and Oklahoma residents. He said, “If local residents of the area are experiencing the negative effects of increased seismicity and want to do something about it, without scientific evidence like this, these people might be powerless to argue against the owners of the wells. But if you can somehow give them evidence, I think it can improve overall awareness of the issue.” Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America published the studies online here and here . Pawnee, Oklahoma citizens are taking the issue to court; they’re suing 27 natural gas and oil companies over earthquake damage. The beleaguered town has been racked with almost 800 earthquakes in a year. Many homes have been damaged, but insurance claims have been rejected because homeowners insurance doesn’t always include coverage for earthquakes. The lawsuit says the oil and gas companies have showed “reckless disregard for public or private safety.” Just today, the United States Geological Survey reported yet another earthquake near Cushing, Oklahoma, that measured 4.0 on the Richter scale. Via Phys.org and Grist Images via OakleyOriginals on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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USGS, EPA investigate link between underground wastewater disposal and Oklahoma’s largest earthquake

September 7, 2016 by  
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On Saturday, a magnitude 5.6 earthquake shook north central Oklahoma , prompting the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to investigate whether the quake was caused by the oil and gas industry’s practice of underground wastewater disposal . The quake, which is reportedly the largest in the state’s history, damaged some buildings but there have been no reports of injuries or deaths. Many environmental scientists have long suspected that industrial activities like this are linked to, and can even cause, earthquakes, and hopefully soon the USGS will have answers about what is happening in Oklahoma. Saturday’s earthquake occurred near the city of Pawnee at 8:03 a.m. local time and was reportedly felt in six surrounding states. The quake was somewhat unusual because it occurred on a fault that seismologists didn’t even know existed. In fact, the fault that triggered the quake runs perpendicular to the larger well-known fault system. This is the key feature of the earthquake that piqued the interest of USGS researchers, who suspect that human activity may be partially responsible for kicking off the tremor. The Environmental Protection Agency is also investigating the causes and implications of the earthquake. Related: Surge of earthquakes in Oklahoma puts fracking under fire “Without studying the specifics of the wastewater injection and oil and gas production in this area, the USGS cannot currently conclude whether or not this particular earthquake was caused by industrial-related, human activities,” the USGS said in a statement. “However, we do know that many earthquakes in Oklahoma have been triggered by wastewater fluid injection.” State regulators at the Oklahoma Corporation Commission have ordered oil and gas operators to shut down 35 disposal wells that may have contributed to this weekend’s earthquake in what Governor Mary Fallin has called “a mandatory directive.” The wells located within five miles of a 10-mile section of the fault linked to the quake, and they have been ordered to shut down within seven days, and all the other wells must be shut down within 10 days. Last year, a series of earthquakes in Oklahoma had many scientists and environmentalists pointing fingers at fracking, the common practice in the oil and gas industry of injecting high-pressure liquids underground to open fissures, in an effort to gain access to oil and gas. As industry activity in the state has steadily grown, so too have the number of earthquakes measuring at least 3.0 on the Richter scale. After the  magnitude 5.1 quake between Tulsa and Oklahoma City in February, 2015 , residents feared that the worst was yet to come. With this weekend’s quake now being called the strongest ever in the state, and plenty of oil and gas industry drilling ongoing, nobody is sure at this point what to expect next. Via Fox News and USGS Images via USGS and Shutterstock

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Tornado-shaped Oklahoma Weather Museum sits atop a 1920s warehouse in Tornado Alley

March 17, 2015 by  
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Read the rest of Tornado-shaped Oklahoma Weather Museum sits atop a 1920s warehouse in Tornado Alley Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: extreme weather , green roof , Keith & Todd , Kinslow , KKT Architects , Museum , oklahoma , Oklahoma Weather Museum , tornado , tornado alley , tornado-shaped tower , tower , tulsa , weather museum

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Mesmerizing black oil spills reflect Swiss Abbey’s beautiful baroque architecture

March 17, 2015 by  
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Read the rest of Mesmerizing black oil spills reflect Swiss Abbey’s beautiful baroque architecture Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Art , art installation , baroque architecture , Bellelay , motor oil , oil art , oil spill , recycled oil , Romain Crelier , waste oil , We Find Wildness

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Surge of earthquakes in Oklahoma puts fracking under fire

February 26, 2015 by  
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There were more earthquakes with a magnitude 3.0 or greater in Oklahoma last year than anywhere else in the continental United States. Whereas Oklahoma used to feel one or two tremors a year, it now experiences two to three per day. This spike parallels the state’s boom in shale gas production, and scientists and environmentalists are pointing their fingers at fracking. Read the rest of Surge of earthquakes in Oklahoma puts fracking under fire Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: earthquake , earthquakes , fracking , Fracking earthquake , fracking earthquakes , hydraulic fracturing , oklahoma , Oklahoma Corporation Commission , oklahoma earthquakes , Oklahoma fracking , Oklahoma fracking earthquakes , Oklahoma oil industry , shale gas production , us geological survey , wastewater injection

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Why Oklahoma is the New California When it Comes to Earthquakes

July 9, 2014 by  
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When you think of earthquake country, you probably picture California, with its all-too-frequent seismic rumblings. But these days the state you should be imagining is Oklahoma. Between 1978 and 2008, the state experienced only two 3.0-magnitude or greater earthquakes, but in just the first four months of this year, Oklahoma had 145. The likely cause? According to one new study, the problem is fracking . Read the rest of Why Oklahoma is the New California When it Comes to Earthquakes Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: fracking earthquakes , fracking faults , fracking groundwater , fracking problems , fracking research , fracking risks , fracking studies , hydraulic fracturing , hydraulic fracturing earthquakes , hydraulic fracturing groundwater , hydraulic fracturing Oklahoma , midwest earthquakes , oklahoma earthquakes , Oklahoma fracking , Oklahoma fracking earthquakes , Oklahoma seismic activity

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California Could Run Out of Water in Less Than Two Years

May 29, 2014 by  
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The U.S. Drought Monitor has released its latest report and the results are deeply troubling. Seven states are experiencing long-term severe drought, resulting in severe water scarcity and profound agricultural losses, and California only has enough water reserves to last roughly two years. Read the rest of California Could Run Out of Water in Less Than Two Years Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: 7 US states without water , agriculture , Arizona , California , Drought , Kansas , nevada , New Mexico , oklahoma , severe drought , texas , U.S. drought , U.S. drought monitor , U.S.A. , water issues

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Oklahoma City Developer Offers $100,000 to Anyone Who Will Take His Geodesic Dome

March 25, 2013 by  
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Buckminster-Fuller ‘s ground-breaking geodesic domes might have been technologically revolutionary and highly efficient, but that doesn’t mean that it’s easy to find a roofer to maintain them. For that reason—and several others—a developer is not only trying to get rid of his Bucky-inspired dome , he’s offering a whopping $100,000 bonus to anyone who will take it off his hands. The Gold Dome, once a branch of Citizen’s State Bank on Route 66 in Oklahoma City, was recently purchased by David Box who has found $2.5 million worth of problems with the building—leading him to offer up the distinctive dome to anyone who will take it. Read the rest of Oklahoma City Developer Offers $100,000 to Anyone Who Will Take His Geodesic Dome Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Bailey Bozalis Dickinson and Roloff. route 66 , bank reuse , Buckminster Fuller , bucky balls , david box , geodesic dome , Gold Dome , historic demolition , historic landmark , historic preservation , oklahoma , Oklahoma City , old banks

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