Kathy Toth Lowe, Bartlesville

Lawmakers quietly gave Oklahoma's oil and gas industry a $50 million gift in last week's budget agreement.

Unlike most line items that were discussed and debated, one line attributed to the Tax Commission allocated $50 million that would pay one-fourth of the cost to retrofit old, methane-leaking wells to bring them up to current Environmental Protection Agency standards.

Although the Department of Environmental Quality oversees the program in Oklahoma, the Tax Commission would issue the payments.

That move was contrary to Gov. Kevin Stitt's comments during the budget summit, when he cautioned, “You can’t just be Santa Claus to every single program.”

As Paul Monies reported, the move didn't sit well with some; Rep. Meloyde Blancett, D-Tula, said it sounded like corporate welfare and decried the lack of transparency.

Petroleum Alliance of Oklahoma President Brook Simmons said the retrofits could cost billions and would “quite simply kill Main Street oil and gas companies in almost every county in Oklahoma.”

Riley Duren, a University of Arizona researcher and the chief executive officer of the non-profit organization Carbon Mapper, wrote in April that methane is the second-most common global warming pollutant after carbon dioxide and that methane’s ability to warm the planet is nearly 30 times greater than carbon dioxide’s over 100 years, and more than 80 times over 20 years.

“You can think of methane as being a very effective blanket that traps heat in the atmosphere, warming the planet,” Duren wrote.

Oklahoma City's Devon Energy reported earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization for the 12 months ending March 31, 2024, of more than $7.16 billion. Tulsa's Williams Energy reported EBITDA for the same period of $6.16 billion.

More worth reading:

Two Dead in Saturday Night Storms
Two people are dead after a line of severe storms Saturday night left tornado damage in Rogers and Mayes counties. [Tulsa World]

District Judges Push Back on Governor's Proposal
The president of the Oklahoma Judges Association, a judicial advocacy group, emailed its members asking them to contact their state lawmakers and push back against the governor's proposal. [The Oklahoman]

Lawsuit Alleges Sexual Assaults at Juvenile Justice Center
Twenty people detained at the Tulsa County Family Center for Juvenile Justice over seven months have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit, each alleging that they were sexually assaulted, harassed, and/or raped by detention officers or other staff. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma's largest recorded hailstone fell two miles north of Gotebo on May 23, 2011. It was six inches in diameter. The diameter of a regulation softball is 3.8 inches.

Ciao for now,

Ted Streuli

Executive Director, Epic Text Books

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