The Oklahoman wants us to be grateful for the oil companies…
11:07 AM EDT on May 26, 2017
As oil and banking mogul George Kaiser explained a few weeks ago, one of the main reasons Oklahoma finds itself in a seemingly endless budget crisis is that our elected officials refuse to reasonably and responsibly tax our state's most valuable resource - hydrocarbons. It's a point we've been making at the TLO Home Office since 2014.
Although there was a popular push to raise the gross production tax to the same rates as other energy-producing states, our greedy, profit-driven Oil Industry Overlords and the legislative loyalists they control successfully defeated the effort, only agreeing to an increased tax on depleted wells that were drilled between 2011 - 2015. Basically, they agreed to a one-time revenue source increase that does nothing to address or avoid future revenue crisis.
In a perfect world, our local media would be all over this. Surprisingly, some actually are. Oklahoma Watch connected the dots and reported that Oklahoma lawmakers received $683,000 in campaign donations from the energy industry from 2015 - 2017. That's $682,950 more than they received from the blog industry. Oklahoma Watch also documented how the energy uses its power and influence to intimidate lawmakers by threatening to back other candidates in local elections. You can read the entire report here.
Naturally, the Oklahoman hasn't mentioned the report in the paper or on NewsOK.com. They also haven't investigated the power and control that one industry has on the people's government. Instead, they simple explain why we should be grateful...
This is one reason Oklahomans are grateful for the oil and gas industry
THE oil and gas industry in Oklahoma has been getting knocked around pretty good at the state Capitol. In calling for the industry to pay a higher gross production tax rate, the House Democratic leader, in particular, regularly pilloried oil and gas as “the wealthiest” and “the most powerful” industry “in the history of the world.”
It's an effort to depict the industry as greedy and uncaring, one that looks out only for itself at all costs. This narrative is a favorite of liberals across the country, many of whom dream of windmills and solar panels supplying all the nation's energy, and who demonize fossil fuels as “dirty” and the industry as harmful to the environment.
Yeah, how dare those snowflake liberals try to accurately depict the most powerful industry in the history of the world to be greedy and uncaring. Truth like that is for losers! Here in Oklahoma, we're supposed to be appreciative and grateful that these companies take up shop here and extract our valuable resources for profit. It's the Oklahoma standard.
Our sense is that most Oklahomans reject these arguments, and appreciate what the oil and gas industry has meant to this state and what it continues to mean — tens of thousands of good-paying jobs at companies that in fiscal 2015 remitted about $2 billion in tax revenue to the state treasury.
Most Oklahomans also reject progressives' notion that the industry doesn't care about the land. No greater example of this exists than the Oklahoma Energy Resources Board's now 24-year effort to clean up abandoned oil field sites.
Okay, so the example they provide about the industry "caring about the land" is the industry's effort to clean up abandoned well sites? That would be like saying you're a bit of clean freak because you cleaned up all the mouse droppings in your kitchen.
At this point, the Oklahoman goes full propaganda and promotes OERB's "voluntary" efforts to clean up abandoned wells, something they probably would have never volunteered to do if it wasn't for a democratically controlled Oklahoma legislature. They close with this:
The Oklahoman's Adam Wilmoth spoke last week to landowners James Wright and Vicki Hayward, beneficiaries of the 1,000th cleanup in Osage County. Their 140 acres of land near Sperry included 25 acres littered with concrete remnants of an old oil field, and by an old saltwater dump. They didn't have the wherewithal to remedy those problems on their own.
“It's a dream come true,” Hayward said. “It's beyond our expectations.”
Consider them two more residents who are grateful for the oil and gas industry in Oklahoma.
Yep, the oil companies will come to your land and clean up the mess they made 50 years ago! How nice of them. How can you not be grateful about that.
Anyway, I have an idea. Instead of asking the people of Oklahoma to be grateful for the oil companies, maybe it's time we ask the oil companies to be grateful for the people of Oklahoma? It needs to go both ways, right? Seriously, drill our resources, employ our people, and clean up your old messes, but also pay a reasonable tax rate on those fossil fuels so we can fund education, healthcare, and actually make this place a decent place to live for everyone, not just oil moguls.
Wait. That actually makes sense. Screw that. Let's just ignore reality and get on our knees and be "grateful" instead.