Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin's executive budget proposal, released this week, seeks to set the nation's highest tax on wind power and phase out tax incentives for the wind industry ahead of schedule.
The budget proposes a $0.005 per kilowatt-hour tax on wind energy—five times the wind tax in Wyoming, which along with South Dakota are the only states that tax wind energy—and accelerates the end of a tax credit, currently set to expire in 2021.
Just when you thought it couldn't get more insane - Wyoming Bill Would Outlaw #renewableenergy via @EcoWatch https://t.co/7V1Dg3MohU— Robert F. Kennedy Jr (@Robert F. Kennedy Jr)1484667804.0
A separate piece of legislation seeking an early end to wind tax credits is currently working its way through the House. The Oklahoman reported last year that state fossil fuel executives, including Trump advisor Harold Hamm, had formed a coalition to lobby for the end of wind tax credits in the state.
"Creating a less competitive energy environment via taxation only hurts consumers while reducing the competitiveness of one of Oklahoma's most viable industries," said Jeff Clark, executive director of The Wind Coalition, told NewsOK. "Raising electricity rates and ending the state's commitment to renewables also drives away needed investment in Oklahoma by manufacturing and high-technology facilities, who also provide jobs and pay taxes."
For a deeper dive:
House bill: Tulsa World
Correction: This article originally stated .05 cents per kilowatt-hour for the proposed tax. It's been updated to the correct $0.005 per kilowatt-hour as outlined in the governor's proposal in her official Executive Budget Book on page 10.
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Sources close to the Trump transition team told Politico that Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin is the frontrunner for the Interior secretary position. Fallin, who is a climate change denier and was one of the first governors to oppose the Clean Power Plan, met with Trump last week in New York, where their conversation focused on the energy industry and Native tribes.
According to Politico, Fallin is an "advocate of oil and gas development, she signed a bill last year that would prevent Oklahoma cites from enacting bans on drilling."
Elaine Chao, former labor secretary under Bush II (left). Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin is the frontrunner for the Interior secretary position (right).
Meanwhile, Trump announced Elaine Chao, former labor secretary under Bush II, as his pick for secretary of transportation; Chao, who is married to Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, left the board of Bloomberg Philanthropies in early 2015 after the charity announced it would be increasing its donations to the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign.
"As secretary of transportation Elaine Chao will spearhead a Trump plan to plunder the government for Trump's friends and family's financial gain," Friends of the Earth climate and energy program director Benjamin Schreiber said.
"A massive corporate welfare plan for contractors is not an infrastructure plan, it's a travesty and a threat to the planet. Avoiding the worst impacts of climate change will require a radical reshaping of our transportation system to move us away from fossil fuels. The U.S. urgently needs a secretary of transportation who will lead this transition. As secretary of labor, Chao dismantled critical mine safety regulations and showed that she values fossil fuel profits above all else. She is the wrong choice to lead the transition to a green energy economy that will provide lasting jobs and protect the planet."
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This is not us trying to be The Onion. Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has officially proclaimed Oct. 13 "Oilfield Prayer Day" to raise awareness for the state's declining oil industry. Here's her official signed proclamation.
Michael Vadon / State of Oklahoma Executive Department
The document states:
"Whereas Oklahoma is blessed with an abundance of oil and natural gas; and ... Christians acknowledge such natural resources are created by God ... Christians are invited to thank God for the blessings created by the oil and natural gas industry and to seek His wisdom and ask for protection."
A series of "Praying for the Patch" breakfasts will take place in other cities before culminating at the sixth annual Oilfield Prayer Breakfast on Oct. 13 in downtown Oklahoma City, an event that Fallin has made preliminary plans to attend.
Tom Beddow, coordinator of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma's Oil Patch Chaplains ministry, is one of the organizers of the Praying for the Patch initiative that was also created in partnership with the Oilfield Christian Fellowship.
The organizers have invited Oklahoma residents and churches to simultaneously pray for the state's energy industry, which directly or indirectly employs one-quarter of all job holders in the Sooner State.
Governor Mary Fallin has issued an Executive Proclamation designating October 13 as Oilfield Prayer Day… https://t.co/N9gAcD9adR— Rob Hedrick (@Rob Hedrick)1475645555.0
"The oil field is hurting right now," Beddow told The Oklahoman. "We're asking churches all over Oklahoma to open their doors, put on a pot of coffee and pray for the oil field, and not only for the oil field but the state, because the economy of our state is so connected to the oil field."
According to The Oklahoman, Beddow is a former oil field welder who attends First Baptist Church of Ada. He wants churches to pray for people, schools, mental health agencies and other businesses and organizations affected by the energy industry's downturn.
“The faith community is experiencing the same economic disaster, and it seems to have the same need, the recovery from financial loss," Beddow also said, according to the
The Baptist Messenger. “Once again, the need goes much deeper. The greatest need of the faith community is to develop a broken-hearted compassion for the oilfield and related industries. This is the type of compassion described in Neh. 1:1-5. Real compassion results in a more dynamic prayer life, which, in turn, leads to action."
Jeff Hubbard, with the Oilfield Christian Fellowship in Oklahoma City, told The Oklahoman he supports the prayer initiative.
"We have a saying: The oil field trickles down to everyone," he said.
He added that the prayer breakfasts bring together energy industry workers of all stripes.
"You've got guys in coveralls and guys in suits and ties," said Hubbard, who is also a senior account manager at Schlumberger oil field equipment supplier and member of Crossings Community Church.
Oklahoma's economy has indeed fallen on hard times partly due to cheap oil triggering energy industry losses. Not only that, the state's oil and gas production has also been tied to the state's alarming swarm of earthquakes.
#Oklahoma #Earthquake Officially Largest in State's History https://t.co/aW8LUxpdFf @MarkRuffalo @joshfoxfilm @FrackAction @foodandwater— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1473177683.0
Last month, a record-breaking 5.8-magnitude earthquake rattled the the city of Pawnee. Geologists are investigating whether the earthquake—which occurred 25 miles north of the world's largest oil-storage complex in Cushing—was triggered by wastewater fluid injection from oil and gas production in the area.