Energy

Don’t Frack Lake Hefner

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(Oklahoma City has sent out a notice that a public meeting on the issue will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 18 at the Will Rogers Conservatory, 3400 W. 36th Street in Oklahoma City. The discussion will be over a proposal by Pedestal Oil Company to proceed with “oil and gas exploration on the Lake Hefner Reservation.”)

Oil prices could drop soon to the $50 a barrel range and earthquakes rumble daily here as oil and gas companies in this country, especially in places such as Oklahoma and Texas, refuse to address the negative economic and environmental consequences of their fiendish fracking frenzy ways.

It’s about as obvious as it gets at this point the boom has gone bust, which it always does and always will, until there’s not a single drop of oil left in the ground here in Oklahoma.

So what does the government of Oklahoma City do in this period of uncertainty in the energy market here? Well, right now, it appears poised to allow a company to deploy directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing or fracking just south of Lake Hefner, one of the area’s main water supplies.

This would be a huge risk for everyone in central Oklahoma, not just for Oklahoma City or people who live near the lake. Environmentalists have long argued that fracking leads to water contamination. Scientists have recently linked earthquakes to the disposal wells used in the fracking process. It’s a filthy process with negative environmental consequences. To allow new fracking near a larger metropolitan city’s water supply would simply be a blatant if not intentionally craven act of sheer madness. Perhaps, that’s too much hyperbole, but common sense would dictate a city government would do everything in its power to protect its drinking water.

Maybe the federal government can get involved to stop it under some type of preventative water crisis management. Surely, there’s some act or law that would allow the federal government to take over the management of a water supply for thousands upon thousands of people. What if Lake Hefner gets polluted and is non-usable for several months or even years?

Oklahoma City has sent out a notice that a public meeting on the issue will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 18 at the Will Rogers Conservatory, 3400 W. 36th Street in Oklahoma City. The discussion will be over a proposal by Pedestal Oil Company to proceed with “oil and gas exploration on the Lake Hefner Reservation.”

The notice indicates the company officials will “present an overview of the project and protective measures that will be taken.” In other words, there’s a real chance citizens will be given little input at that particular meeting as the corporate hacks drone on with double-speak. Will they bring some confusing charts to display and then end the meeting early? It wouldn’t surprise me.

The notice doesn’t specifically mention fracking, but a Facebook site associated with Oklahoma City’s Ward 2 Councilor Ed Shadid notes:

With less than a week's notice, a public meeting will be held in which Pedestal Oil Co. will announce their plans for oil and gas drilling, including directional drilling and fracking, immediately adjacent to Lake Hefner. Three years ago nearly 100 people came to a community meeting to protest. It has been quiet until this week when the OKC Water Trust announced this meeting one week before Christmas. Although this is the busiest of times, please attend if you are interested and able.

Note “one week before Christmas.” This seems like it’s an obvious ploy of collusion between some Oklahoma City officials—not Shadid, of course—and the oil company to limit citizen participation and protest in the meeting. That’s how the power structure operates here. It limits free speech. It marginalizes and bullies. Its trademarks are secrecy and sneakiness and collusion.

The KFOR news site quoted Shadid this way about concerns over the proposal: “For the neighborhoods in ward two, it’s the sounds, the traffic, it’s damage to the area, it’s those, the thousands of people who use the trails in Lake Hefner, it’s any potential risk to the city’s water supply.” Shadid makes great points. It could affect EVERYONE in this area in one way or another.

Meanwhile, The Oklahoman editorial board continues crying over the world’s oil glut caused by the fracking boom that has dropped prices from more than $100 a barrel to the $60 a barrel range in just a few months. Some experts predict it could even go into the $50 a barrel range. I predict it will drop below $50. (I’ve been right before on this issue.) Sure, that’s bad in certain ways for the state economy because of an expected decline in gross production tax revenues and perhaps a loss of some jobs, but this glut was easily foreseeable and the newspaper has done nothing but encourage more and more drilling.

Meanwhile, the fight against the filthy process of fracking continues. The city of Denton, Texas, has even voted to ban fracking within its city limits. (Yes, a TEXAS city voted to ban fracking.)

Fracking is a process in which massive amounts of chemicals and water are injected by high pressure into rock formations releasing fossil fuels. The can lead to drinking water contamination, according to environmentalists. The wastewater is then injected into what are known as disposal wells. The disposal well process is believed by scientists to cause earthquakes. Oklahoma has experienced a dramatic surge in earthquakes during the recent fracking boom. The overall oil and gas industry, with the support of The Oklahoman editorial board, have basically argued there’s no conclusive proof this is the case.

I don’t know how much oil and gas drilling there has been around the Lake Hefner area through the years, and, yes, it’s conceivable that extra measures could be taken to protect one of the area’s main and important water supplies. But, really, why take any chance at all of polluting Lake Hefner?

We need water to survive. We can’t drink or water our lawns with oil.

Too Much Oil? Blame Us Tree Huggers

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The Oklahoman editorial board’s take on the oil and gas fracking boom gone bust here is as insanely laughable and ridiculous as it gets. It’s cray cray, people.

Here’s the key point in a recent editorial in the newspaper about dropping oil prices and its impact on the state economy: “. . . populists will join the anti-fossil fuel crowd in cheering the pain awaiting oil company employees and their investors.”

See, it’s all about those crazy “populists” excessively worried, as the editorial notes, about those “obscene profits” made by energy companies, which “has never been matched by reality.” The oil company executives, you know those people with courtside seats at The Thunder games, bless their hearts, have nothing to do with it. They match reality. Populists can’t even match their socks on a good day.

It’s as if the writers and editors at The Oklahoman have never experienced or read about or studied the oil boom and bust cycle that has defined this state, well, basically since its inception by the federal government as one of the last states in the nation. I know 1982, the year Penn Square Bank failed, signaling the symbolic end of a major oil boom, may seem like ancient history to a 20-year-old getting ready to take finals next week, but it isn’t to those of us who lived here as adults that year.

Then, as now, “populists” and those people the newspaper refers to as the “anti-fossil fuel crowd” have absolutely nothing to do with the steep drop in oil prices. It’s the oil and gas companies themselves that are completely and entirely to blame, and it’s related directly to greed and immoral, ruthless, awful business practices and non-planning.

Here’s a basic refresher on the oil boom and bust cycle: Oil companies go crazy when prices are up and over drill and over leverage themselves during boom times knowing full well the bust is as inevitable as death and taxes. They take the money and run. That’s the definition of Oklahoma. It has happened before, it’s happening now, and it will happen again. Yet we love us our unethical oil barons. We even name our hockey team after them.

Us hippy tree huggers have absolutely nothing to do with this unbelievably stupid system. The negative aspects of the human condition—greed, the desire for undeserved and corrupt power, lying, fraud, basic immorality—are the culprits. Laugh at us for hugging our trees and singing clichéd campfire songs, but don’t blame us for sin, sloth and gluttony, please, Oklahoman editor Kelly Dyer Fry, who is a member of the newspaper’s extremely prestigious editorial board and, in full disclosure, the mother of my two children.

It’s the OIL COMPANIES that caused the glut through over drilling using hydraulic fracturing or fracking techniques. It’s the OIL COMPANIES that are causing the earthquakes that shake it up for us on a daily basis while polluting our water supplies. It’s the OIL COMPANIES that don’t care one iota for this state, its people, its children and its future. Oil barrel prices have dropped from about $100 a barrel to nearly $60 a barrel in just a few months because of OIL COMPANIES, not sarcastic college English professors, who are NOT dancing around the campfire because many people here may well lose their jobs in the coming months.

The top executives of oil companies pay themselves exorbitant amounts of money during the boom times, but when the boom goes bust who gets hurt the most are the ordinary workers, like oil rig employees and geologists. They lose their jobs. It’s tragic, and not good for an energy state, such as Oklahoma. No, it’s downright terrible and sad. I have known, and I know, and I will know in the future people who lose their jobs because of this style of oil-company immoral greed the newspaper editorial board supports as some type of Biblical mandate handed down by that oil driller himself, the baby Jesus.

Again, the recent editorial has the audacity to actually claim, “. . . the populist view that energy firms make obscene profits has never been matched by reality.” Really? Harold Hamm, chief executive officer of Oklahoma City-based oil company Continental Resources, has at one time reportedly been estimated to be worth around $17 billion. THAT IS OBSCENE. There, I said it. Again. THAT IS OBSCENE. Expect me to be tarred and feathered and sent off in one of Hamm’s 14 private jets and deposited like a baked, unplucked turkey on the streets of New York City where them liberals belong.

Get some tissues before you read the rest of this paragraph. Hamm is worth considerably less now that oil prices are plunging because of The Oil Glut. Bless his billionaire’s heart. Poor Harold. (His divorce settlement isn’t going to help him either.) But what’s a few less billion dollars to a non-obscene, money making oil executive? His socks match because his 387 personal servants make sure they match.

So this is what that GOP’s “drill, baby, drill” dogma gets you: An Oklahoma economy threatened by mythical American fossil-fuel independence. Thanks, Sarah Palin. Can I state the obvious? When you drill and drill and drill, you get oil and oil and oil. When you get oil and oil and oil, you get gasoline prices below $2 a gallon, which is extremely wonderful for the nation’s economy, but not so good for an energy state like Oklahoma. People lose jobs here during bust times. It’s tragic. Tax revenues plunge. Oklahoma’s education funding gets cut by the highest level in the nation. Wait, that happened before the bust.

Let’s pause and rephrase. The Oklahoma power structure—the Hamms, the Frys, the Fallins, [insert different names over the years here]—don’t give a damn about education and never will. The oil boom gone bust just gives them another excuse to castigate those stinking liberal tree huggers, see, that just don’t get it. It gives them another excuse to demean overworked teachers for trying to teach children on shoestring budgets.

Of course, Okie Funk called this bust a long time ago, but Kelly Ogle and Amanda Taylor, News 9 anchors, have great hair, and that’s what matters in the media here in Oklahoma, right? That, and the craven members of the state’s largest newspaper’s editorial board, who think logic is a dirty, four-letter word.

Hamm On Keystone Pipeline: “Not Relevant”

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What are the Republicans and The Oklahoman editorial board going to do now that local oil baron Harold Hamm has called the northern segment of the Keystone XL pipeline “not relevant”?

The GOP and the right-wing newspaper have lambasted President Barack Obama for delaying action to approve he construction of the pipeline, which would essentially move Canadian-produced oil to the Gulf coast. They made it a campaign issue in the recent election, and a recent Oklahoman editorial argued Obama “has blocked Keystone at every turn, in a nod to environmentalists.” The editorial’s headline even proclaimed, “Keystone project should be near top of GOP to-do list.”

But Hamm, pictured right, the founder and chief executive officer of the energy company Continental Resources in Oklahoma City, recently had this to say to Politico about the pipeline: “It’s not relevant at all in my opinion. And here we are making it relevant now? Forget it.” That was only a few days after The Oklahoman published its editorial.

Hamm has bonafide GOP credentials. He served as an energy advisor to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in his failed 2012 campaign. So why is he trying to interfere with the conservative mojo right after an election with major gains by Republicans on the national level?

Partially, it’s just plain logic. The pipeline just isn’t as necessary for American interests as the GOP has let on. But it’s mainly about business. There’s a world oil glut, and prices are dropping. Hamm said, “If we have an … oil oversupply looking at us, do we need more Canadian oil here? Probably not.”

While it’s true the construction of the pipeline would create jobs, as The Oklahoman has argued, those job would only be temporary, and the potential for environmental damage would remain high during and after the pipeline’s construction.

In essence, the pipeline is yet another GOP issue like Obamacare that is only used as a cudgel to criticize Obama. (New York Times columnist Paul Krugman wrote about this conservative tactic today.) If the pipeline was built, and the oil glut deepened further, it could hurt the economy in Oklahoma as the fracking boom here goes bust. Somehow, The Oklahoman finds this acceptable, right? Well, probably not. It just wants to bash Obama for any reason whatsoever, even if it becomes “not relevant.”

The billionaire Hamm did tell Politico that the pipeline should have been built six years ago, but wouldn’t that have tempered the fracking boom in Oklahoma and Texas? Hamm’s position on the pipleine, of course, comes from his own company’s perspective and interests. Continental has been a big player in the Bakken shale formation in North Dakota.

It will be interesting to note what impact Hamm’s statements will have on the GOP and its right-wing noise machine, which includes The Oklahoman editorial page. Will they persist with criticism of Obama over the issue and still support the “drill, baby, drill” philosophy, which has created an environmentally unsound fracking boom in several states and produced an oil glut? Have the Republicans, once again, lost one of their specious fear-mongering issues because common sense eventually prevailed under the Obama administration?

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