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Produced water from gas drilling in the Marcellus shale. Tara Lohan

By Tara Lohan

We're living beyond our means when it comes to groundwater. That's probably not news to everyone, but new research suggests that, deep underground in a number of key aquifers in some parts of the U.S., we may have much less water than previously thought.

"We found that the average depth of water resources across the country was about half of what people had previously estimated," said Jennifer McIntosh, a distinguished scholar and professor of hydrology and atmospheric sciences at the University of Arizona.

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Wind farm with solar panels in southern California. 4kodiak / E+ / Getty Images

By Jeff Deyette

Despite the Trump administration's ongoing attempts to prop up coal and undermine renewables—at FERC, EPA and through tariffs and the budget process—2018 should instead be remembered for the surge in momentum toward a clean energy economy. Here are nine storylines that caught my attention this past year and help illustrate the unstoppable advancement of renewable energy and other modern grid technologies.

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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Wind power in rural Iowa, one of four states that gets 30 to 37 percent of its electricity from wind power. Voice of America

Four U.S. states generated 30 to 37 percent of their energy from wind power in 2017. That's just one of the findings of the Department of Energy (DOE)'s annual Wind Technologies Market Report, released August 22.

Oklahoma, Iowa, Kansas and South Dakota were the leaders in terms of how much wind contributed to their state's overall electricity generation, but 14 states got more than 10 percent of their in-state energy from wind power last year. Texas took the lead in added wind capacity, installing 2,305 megawatts worth.

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The collapsed coal ash impoundment and closed power plant at Dan River Steam Station (Duke Energy), Eden, North Carolina. The impoundment failure caused the 2014 Dan River coal ash spill. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

On Monday, Oklahoma became the first state to be granted a permit from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to dispose of its own coal ash, The Associated Press reported.

The move displaces the federal government as the body responsible for coal ash disposal in EPA head Scott Pruitt's home state. Coal ash is the residue left over from burning coal for power that often contaminates groundwater. It is a change that industry has lobbied for and environmental groups have opposed.

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"This is what the raw crude oil looked like when firefighters arrived earlier in the 16900 block of N Pennsylvania." Oklahoma City Fire Department / Twitter

Raw crude oil spewed from a ruptured Sunoco pipeline in Oklahoma on Thursday.

The Oklahoma City Fire Department and hazmat crews responded to the situation after receiving reports of a "yellow liquid" shooting into the air near an oil and gas well site in Edmond, a suburb outside of Oklahoma City.

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A 4.3 magnitude earthquake near Perry, Oklahoma on April 9. USGS

A 4.3 magnitude earthquake that rattled Northern Oklahoma early Monday morning was the fourth temblor to strike the region in the past 24 hours.

In fact, a dozen-plus earthquakes, ranging from magnitudes of 2.5 to 4.6, have been recorded in the Sooner State since Friday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

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USGS recorded two 4.2-magnitude earthquakes near Enid, Oklahoma on March 4.

Two 4.2-magnitude earthquakes struck near Enid in northern Oklahoma Sunday at 5:17 p.m and 9:40 p.m., according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). They are the largest recorded this year so far and even felt in neighboring Kansas.

The large quakes were followed by two smaller ones around the same area early Monday. The first was a magnitude 2.7 followed by 12:35 a.m. then magnitude 2.6 at 6:16 a.m.

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GE Renewable Energy

The Wind Catcher Energy Connection project, which includes a massive 800-turbine wind farm under construction in the Oklahoma panhandle, is getting closer to lift-off.

Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO), a subsidiary of major utility American Electric Power, announced this week a settlement with various parties, including Walmart, allowing the $4.5 billion project to move forward.

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House damage in central Oklahoma from the magnitude 5.6 earthquake on Nov. 6, 2011. Wikimedia Commons

The alarming string of earthquakes that have shaken Oklahoma for years has long been tied to the large volume of fracking wastewater dumped into the state's injection wells. And while state regulators have taken numerous measures to reduce wastewater disposal volumes to prevent such "induced" earthquakes, they might want to consider another measure—restricting how deep wastewater gets sent underground.

A new study, published Thursday in the journal Science, finds that Oklahoma's earthquakes can also be triggered by wastewater injection depth.

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The drilling company involved in Monday's natural gas rig explosion in Pittsburg County, Oklahoma that killed five workers has a long record of deadly accidents and numerous safety violations.

Ten workers have died within the past ten years at well sites linked to Houston-based Patterson-UTI Energy, the Associated Press reported, citing data from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

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Magnitude 4.2 earthquake shakes central Oklahoma on Wednesday night. USGS

Several earthquakes have struck Oklahoma this week, including a magnitude 4.2 that hit the central part of the state on Wednesday night.

"The past 24 hours have had an uptick in earthquake numbers, with 8 quakes ranging from 2.6-4.2 magnitude occurring in Oklahoma," USGS tweeted.

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