Economy, Energy, Natural Resources: Policy to People

“As Senate Readies Keystone XL Pipeline Vote, Debate On Existing Gulf Coast Section Simmers In Oklahoma And Texas”

Supporters say the 487-mile section of the Keystone pipeline that connects Oklahoma to Texas is “proof that building the rest of the pipeline will create jobs and boost tax revenues,” but detractors say the economic impact is overstated and the pipeline will dramatically increase greenhouse gas emissions “by enabling Canadian producers to develop more oil sands crude.”

Proponents say the project has been an economic success story for the state and local governments, creating new jobs and generating tax revenues in rural and low-income communities. But critics, including landowner activists and environmentalists, argue that those benefits are overinflated, and they say they’re worried that earlier safety issues during the pipeline’s construction could cause leaks and harm important aquifers and farmlands.

Read more at: www.ibtimes.com

Oklahoma Outcry Continues Against EPA’s ‘Waters of the United States’ Rule


la vaca vegetariana / Flickr

Since the federal Clean Water Act first became law in 1972, there’s been confusion over which bodies of water qualify for protection under its provisions. Enter the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Waters of the U.S. rule, which means to bring clarity to the situation.

What it actually has done is cause a lot of controversy. The EPA and U.S Corps of Engineers are taking comment on the rule, and hearing a lot complaints from officials in Oklahoma. Attorney General Scott Pruitt was one of 11 state AGs who wrote a letter to the EPA and Corps in early October calling the scope of the federal government’s proposed rule “truly breathtaking.”

Now, Gov. Mary Fallin and the Oklahoma Farm Bureau are submitting their letters of opposition. Continue Reading

“State Business Tax Breaks More Than Double, to $760 Million”

Tax breaks for the energy industry reduced state revenue collections by $486 million in 2014, Oklahoma Watch reports.

Some lawmakers and advocacy groups say the lost revenue is harmful to the state, restricting its ability to invest in core services such as education and health care or to offer broad-based cuts in income or sales taxes. “It’s the largest corporate welfare giveaway in the history of Oklahoma,” said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Mike Mazzei, R-Tulsa. “It’s going to crowd out our ability to do other levels of tax reform, other levels of lower taxes for people, small businesses and other industries that aren’t in oil and gas.” Supporters of the subsidies insist that they help pay for themselves by generating economic growth and creating jobs. Energy industry leaders say without oil and gas production tax breaks, they would make new drilling methods less cost-effective and stifle exploration.

Read more at: oklahomawatch.org

“Judge orders Osage County to Approve Wind Farm Development”

Six months after the Osage County Board of Adjustment “refused to grant a permit for a second wind farm development across the rolling hills of Osage County, a district judge declared Wednesday that the giant turbines must be approved after all,” The Tulsa World reports.

The county board voted 3-0, with a fourth member abstaining, to deny a conditional use permit for Mustang Run, which wants to construct 68 turbines across 9,000 acres near the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve north of Pawhuska. The Mustang Run Wind Project promptly sued the board, and District Judge Robert Haney sided with the wind energy developers, partly because previous members of the Board of Adjustment had approved a separate wind farm, now under construction west of Pawhuska.

Read more at: www.tulsaworld.com

What Oklahoma Can Learn From a Municipal Ban on Fracking in Texas

A Frack Free Denton booth at the University of North Texas. On Nov. 4, voters approved a citywide ban on hydraulic fracturing.

Crystal J. Hollis / Flickr

A Frack Free Denton booth at the University of North Texas. On Nov. 4, voters approved a citywide ban on hydraulic fracturing.

Driven by water worries, safety questions and quality of life concerns, residents in Oklahoma and states other the country have pushed for citywide bans on hydraulic fracturing.

Many of those efforts have proved successful, but, in the end, fracking bans might be more about lawyers than voters.

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As Oklahoma Economists Eye Slumping Oil Prices, Energy Executives Urge Calm

Drilling rig near northwest Oklahoma City.

katsrcool / Flickr

Drilling rig near northwest Oklahoma City.

Crude oil prices have plummeted to the lowest level in three years, a slump analysts say is fueled by reduced demand due to stalling growth in Europe and China, and booming supply from domestic production in the U.S.

In Oklahoma — a state where, historically, finances have risen and fallen with the fortunes of the energy industry — the tumbling oil price has been met with different reactions from oil and gas company executives, economists and state finance officials.

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Crumbling Infrastructure Causes Fluoride to Fade From Public Water Supplies


indiawaterportal.org / Flickr

Testing water for fluoride.

The anti-fluoride movement is gaining steam in the U.S. And with celebrities like Ed Begley Jr. and Rob Schneider on board, how could it fail?

But the debate over whether fluoridation benefits communities’ dental health or amounts to the forced medication of the masses isn’t why Oklahoma towns like Lawton, Purcell, and Fairview stopped adding the chemical to their water. Continue Reading

“Feds Subpoena Chesapeake Energy Over Royalty Complaints”

From our partners at StateImpact Pennsylvania: “Chesapeake Energy has been subpoenaed by the federal Department of Justice, seeking information on its royalty payment practices to mineral owners.”

The company has been the subject of widespread complaints in Pennsylvania and other areas of the country where it operates. Landowners have accused Chesapeake of violating lease agreements and underpaying royalties. In a regulatory filing today with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company disclosed it has received subpoenas from the DOJ and other states. Chesapeake says it has “engaged in discussions with the DOJ and state representatives” and continues to respond to demands for information.

Read more at: stateimpact.npr.org

Hunters Hopeful Wetter Summer Means More Wildlife In Oklahoma’s Woods

Jack Barrett, owner of the BDC Gun Room in Shawnee, Okla., shows off a new shotgun model popular with hunters.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Jack Barrett, owner of the BDC Gun Room in Shawnee, Okla., shows off a new shotgun model popular with hunters.

Nearly a quarter of a million hunters are set to grab their guns and stalk through Oklahoma’s woods when deer gun season opens the week before Thanksgiving.

But years of drought have taken a toll on wildlife populations in Oklahoma, and the men and women who hunt and fish for them.

Continue Reading

“Falling Oil Prices Make Fracking Less Lucrative”

But Steven Pruett, president and chief executive officer of Elevation Resources in Midland, Texas says low oil prices haven’t created a crisis situation for most energy companies. If prices collapsed to 2008 levels, when oil was fetching less than $35 dollars a barrel, drillers might be forced to take more drastic steps like shutting down production. But few are predicting crude will fall that much, NPR’s Jeff Brady reports.

Oil prices are down than more than 25 percent since June and are staying low for now. Drivers may appreciate that, but for oil companies, it’s making some of the most controversial methods of producing oil less profitable – and in a few cases, unprofitable.

Read more at: www.npr.org

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