What do you do when your organization gets called out for spreading fake news? Well, if you’re the Oklahoma Policy Institute, you double down and push more unfounded claims in an opinion piece in Tulsa World, of course!
Just this week, the Oklahoma Policy Institute spread the absurd claim that fracking was contaminating groundwater in Oklahoma (it’s not), based off of a flawed report from the anti-fracking group Clean Water Action that equated wastewater disposal with fracking (not the same), prompting a swift response debunking these claims from FrackFeed. But you don’t have to only take our word for it, as the state regulator for oil and natural gas in Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC), met with the activists at Clean Water Action about the report before its release and told them they were wrong.
Not too discouraged, OPI decided to fall back on an argument they’ve been pushing for years; that increasing taxes on the Oklahoma oil and natural gas industry – already the state’s largest taxpayer – by 250 percent wouldn’t smother production at all, but instead just raise revenue and decrease the state budget deficit. As OPI’s executive director David Blatt claims in the op-ed, burdening oil and gas producers with more taxes wouldn’t have a negative impact, as “[the oil and gas industry’s] threats to pull up stakes ring hollow.”
Yeah, because everyone knows the best way to help a vital state industry thrive is to significantly increase their taxes.
Already, the industry pays $4 in taxes per employee versus the $1 in taxes per employee paid by most other Oklahoma industries, and common sense tells us that increasing that tax burden would only stunt the industry’s growth and damage the state economy. But, apparently, Mr. Blatt doesn’t quite realize how important the oil and gas industry is to Oklahoma’s economy, so we decided to make it easier on him and compiled a list of economic benefits provided by the state’s oil and gas producers:
- Five of Oklahoma’s most active drillers in 2017 have already pledged $5.5 billion in capital investment that will support 30,000 direct and 165,000 indirect jobs and generate millions of dollars in revenue.
- There were 2,500 new jobs created thanks to Oklahoma’s oil and gas industry in January and February 2017 alone.
- Just in March 2017, gross production tax on oil and natural gas increased to $47.9 million – a 102.2 percent increase over March 2016.
- In fiscal year 2015, the oil and gas industry paid over $2 billion in state and local taxes and around $1.7 billion in royalties to Oklahomans.
The state’s ability to keep the costs of operating in Oklahoma’s SCOOP and STACK formations as second lowest among all major U.S. oil-producing regions has meant job creation, increased tax revenue, greater investment and economic stimulation for residents. That’s a fact. Therefore, looking for a bailout by raising taxes on oil and gas producers would hinder the state’s competitiveness to attract development, wiping away the job creation and economic benefits increased activity brings with it.
One would think spreading fake news would make OPI reconsider its floundering campaign against oil and gas producers, but as this latest op-ed shows, OPI would rather be ignorant to the truth.