Oklahoma Lifeblood

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A recent Associated Press report about the fracking-induced earthquakes rattling Oklahoma on a daily basis and making the state the most seismically active place on the planet contained this gem of a paragraph that deserves some parsing and creative interpretation:

"A lot of people say we just need the earth to stop shaking, and I understand that, but the fact of the matter is that without the ability to dispose of wastewater, we cannot produce oil and gas in the state of Oklahoma, and this is our lifeblood," said Kim Hatfield, president of Oklahoma City-based Crawley Petroleum and a member of Gov. Mary Fallin's task force studying the earthquake problem.

Hatfield brings it all together for us in what for him is probably an unintentional way. As I’ve been arguing for years now, there’s no compelling distinction between the fracking process and the related injection wells that dispose of its toxic wastewater. One is dependent on the other just as Hatfield points out. It’s ALL fracking. The other point Hatfield makes that is important is his reference to “lifeblood.” He means it in a profit sense for oil and gas companies, of course, but it can also be applied to the personal safety risks faced right now by all Oklahomans living or working in a major earthquake zone, which includes Edmond now.

The summary: Fracking causes numerous earthquakes in Oklahoma. It’s terribly frightening for many people who care about their lifeblood in a literal sense of the word of living or dying. Hatfield doesn’t mean it quite that way, but he makes it way too easy to extend the interpretation of his comments.

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Two OCU Academics Offer Unequal Proposal

The initiative petition drive to put a measure on the November general election ballot this year to provide an estimated $615 million more annually to Oklahoma’s educational systems is getting underway.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court recently ruled in a 6 to 3 vote that the legalese in the measure’s language doesn’t violate the state’s constitution that only allows one subject in any one law. The $615 million devoted exclusively to education, which would fund $5,000 annual raises for teachers, would be generated by increasing the state sales tax by one penny. Here’s the basic information about the proposal, which I support.

As I wrote earlier, the state does not have a high sales tax rate as some reporters have generalized in the media here. Oklahoma ranks 36th in the nation in terms of the state sales tax rate, which is 4.5 percent. What makes Oklahomans pay overall more than in most states are additional sales taxes levied by local governments, which won’t or can’t diversify their revenue streams.

Some will argue the distinction isn’t important, but that’s not the case. It’s obviously an issue that needs to be addressed in regards to the state’s overall taxation structure and in the debate over the one-penny increase for education, which would, yes, be a regressive tax, meaning low-income people would spend more of a percentage of their income on sales taxes for groceries and many basic living expenses.

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Unarmed Truth

Several events in central Oklahoma, including the annual parade in Oklahoma City, will celebrate the life and historical significance today of the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

King, as we know, was instrumental in advancing the rights of African Americans and other minority groups in the United States and was one of the main driving forces behind the federal Civil Rights Act passed into law in 1964.

King’s 1963 “I Have A Dream” speech is considered one of the finest pieces of oratory in world history.

The concept of passive resistance employed by King and supporters eventually won a foundational victory for African Americans, but it also displayed to the world the continued scourge of southern racist brutality, which was widely documented and condemned.

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