Bad Place To Be

image of oil gusher

(Fracking has put all of us Oklahomans in a lose-lose situation. Do we hope the state finally bans fracking, which is the only sensible response to the earthquake crisis but would lower state tax revenues even more? Or do we hope fossil fuel prices surge and the oil and gas companies frack even more and produce even more earthquakes?—Kurt Hochenauer)

It’s worth noting that Oklahoma’s current earthquake crisis and its budget shortfall and revenue problems are linked symbiotically to a historical caricature that romanticizes the oil and gas industry and overstates its mythical importance to the quality of life here.

The wildcatters turned frackers get hero treatment here from the corporate media, especially The Oklahoman, while most of us face the shaking and rattling and damage of constant earthquakes, along with cuts to state services and our schools. Oklahoma is a world morality lesson, but the state leaders who could do something about it haven’t learned a thing. Drill, baby, drill is a GOP slogan that didn’t win an election, not a studied policy by grown-ups.

The extraction of fossil fuels here has always had its romantic elements: Wildcatters taking chances on drilling in certain areas, instant millions for mineral rights owners, the black spray from the new oil gusher, the boom and bust stories as millions of dollars are easily earned and easily lost, and on and on. It’s a certain caricature of Oklahoma and its neighbor to the south, Texas, but it’s more ambiguous and nuanced that that, and the reality versus the appearance is glaring to anyone not lost in the media hype, the energy industry’s massive public relations campaigns and old reruns of Dallas.

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Oklahoma Fracking Ban Would Stop Earthquakes

I know for many people here this seems like a radical idea, but the only way to bring an end to all these earthquakes in Oklahoma is to ban oil and gas companies from using the fracking process to extract fossil fuels in our state.

Obviously, the negative economic impact of prohibiting hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” would be immense here, but it might finally kickstart the state government into truly diversifying the local economy while doing what it’s supposed to do, which is protecting the safety of citizens and their property.

The major 4.3- and 4.2-magnitude earthquakes that recently rocked Edmond just north of Oklahoma City have brought the issue to the forefront. The Oklahoma Corporation Commission has tried to micromanage the problem, but we now know the fracking process has most likely reactivated a new fault line running from Edmond to downtown Oklahoma City. The lesson here is that Oklahoma, in a basic geological sense, is just not suited for fracking.

The major quakes are just beginning for the state’s most populous area. Get ready. It’s going to be intense. But if the state bans fracking, the quakes will stop. It’s a choice for voters or leavers.

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2015 Okie Funk In Review IV

Amnesty International Anti-Death Penalty Summit poster 2012

(This is the last of four posts containing excerpts from posts published on Okie Funk in 2015. It was an interesting but overall a somewhat turbulent political year in Oklahoma. Under Republican domination, for example, the state now faces a revenue failure and an approximately $1 billion budget shortfall for next fiscal year. I appreciate everyone who has followed this blog through the years, and I wish you a wonderful 2016.—Kurt Hochenauer)

Potassium In Large Quantities, October 9, 2015

“The active ingredient is potassium, which, when injected in large quantities, stops the heart . . .”—Gov. Mary Fallin, as quoted in The Oklahoman, October 9, 2015

In their relentless and ruthless quest to kill people, some state leaders here are obviously exposing the brutality and arbitrariness of the death penalty in this country.

Lethal injection was invented in Oklahoma and first legalized here, and this is where it’s eventually going to come to an end. Even the person who pushed for its legalization thinking he was ending gas chambers and electric chairs, the late Rev. Bill Wiseman, died in a 2007 place crash with tremendous regret over the issue.

The latest news is that the last inmate executed here, Charles Warner, was given a wrong drug in what state officials call “the protocol.” Warner was given potassium acetate instead of potassium chloride, which isn't an approved drug for lethal injection in Oklahoma. As he died on the gurney last January, he cried out, “My body is on fire.”

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