Economy, Energy, Natural Resources: Policy to People
Joe Wertz is multi-platform reporter for StateImpact Oklahoma. He 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.
An oil company seeking to build a disposal well in earthquake-prone Logan County has agreed to record additional pressure and volume measurements to get a permit from the state’s oil and gas regulator.
The Oklahoma Corporation Commission on Thursday voted 2-0 to approve the disposal well for Kansas-based Slawson Exploration. Commissioner Dana Murphy abstained from the vote “saying she wanted to wait until more seismic data was available,” The Oklahoman‘s Paul Monies reports:
Slawson agreed to record daily pressure and volume rates on the disposal well. It also will run a bottom-hole pressure test prior to injection and every 60 days for up to six months.
The bill is likely to draw a legal challenge from an Oklahoma City attorney, who says it’s a “revenue bill” that was passed without some of the legislative burdens added to the Oklahoma Constitution in 1992 with the voter-approved State Question 640.
The episode first aired on May 23. StateImpact’s segment is embedded above.
“The new 2 percent tax rate is fair to the state and sends a clear message to energy producers worldwide: Oklahoma is the place for energy production and investment.” Fallin said in a statement. “We want to be a leader in this field not just today but for decades to come.”
Turbine nacelles for an wind farm project at a staging area in Osage County.
Wind energy companies have high hopes for Osage County. It’s windy, of course, but unlike other windy areas of western Oklahoma, Osage County is a lot closer to the heavy-duty electrical infrastructure needed to transport power from turbines to the grid.
Wind farms have met resistance in other Oklahoma communities, but opposition to the Osage County projects has been particularly fierce because the region is ecologically sensitive and culturally significant. The Oklahoman‘s Paul Monies reports:
Opponents of the two projects by Kansas-based TradeWind Energy Inc. said they endanger the natural beauty of the tallgrass prairie, its fragile ecosystem and the cultural history of the Osage Nation. The area is at the southern edge of the Flint Hills, the last sliver of the natural tallgrass prairie that at one time covered 140 million acres in North America. Continue Reading →
Oklahoma City attorney Jerry Fent hand delivered a letter to Fallin’s office Tuesday urging her not to approve the bill. Fent says it was passed during the last week of the legislative session in violation of a constitutional requirement. The lawsuit also alleges it was approved by fewer lawmakers than required by the constitution, which says revenue bills must be approved by three-fourths of the membership of the House and Senate.
The Oklahoma Legislature on Thursday approved a bill that makes permanent a generous tax incentive for oil and gas production.
The votes followed a heated debate at the Capitol, and months of disagreement between lawmakers, industry lobbyists and energy executives, which are divided on the measure.
The bill’s approval was decried by opponents, like the left-leaning Oklahoma Policy Institute, which described the measure as a “subsidy” for the “well-connected” oil and gas industry. And one Oklahoma City attorney is already considering a constitutional challenge to the bill. Continue Reading →
The Wall Street Journal on Oklahoma’s oil billionaire George Kaiser, who, as we’ve reported, “is breaking with fellow energy executives in asking the state to raise taxes on oil companies.” The story also includes a quote from Stacy Schusterman, chief executive of Samson Energy, which doesn’t operate in Oklahoma: “The assertion that increasing the tax rate by six percentage points will discourage drilling ‘stretches all credibility,’ she says in a written statement.”
“Oklahoma is in desperate financial circumstances,” says the billionaire philanthropist, who controls closely held Kaiser-Francis Oil Co. A higher tax on oil-and-gas production could help the state pay for education and much needed infrastructure improvements, he says in a prepared statement. Raising the production tax “doesn’t move the needle in the decision to drill.” Many of Mr. Kaiser’s competitors beg to differ. “He is a social philanthropist and is very interested in growing the size of government,” says Fred Morgan, chief executive of the State Chamber of Oklahoma.
An alliance of national and state environmental groups on Tuesday asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to set air pollution limits on oil and gas wells and production equipment.
The petition — prepared by Earthjustice, the Sierra Club and the National Resources Defense Council and signed by more than 60 other groups — asks the EPA to issue rules limiting air pollution from oil and gas wells in cities, suburbs and other populated areas.
Nine states are mentioned specifically in the petition, including Oklahoma, where the groups identified 23,646 oil and gas wells in populated areas. Continue Reading →
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