In The Know: Alternative to Earthquake-Linked Wastewater Disposal Stirs up Opportunity for Oklahoma’s Oil Industry

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In The Know: Alternative to Earthquake-Linked Wastewater Disposal Stirs up Opportunity for Oklahoma’s Oil Industry

Alternative to Earthquake-Linked Wastewater Disposal Stirs up Opportunity for Oklahoma’s Oil Industry: A key part in solving the state’s earthquake crisis is the long-term management of an enormous amount of oil-field wastewater likely triggering the shaking. The energy industry is working to solve this billion-barrel-a-year problem, and one promising alternative to risky disposal wells is reusing wastewater instead of pumping it underground. The oil and gas industry has a love-hate relationship with water [StateImpact Oklahoma]. State regulators are evaluating potential action in light of recent earthquakes.

SandRidge Energy posts $23.5 million profit, expands Oklahoma drilling program: SandRidge Energy Inc. on Wednesday recorded a $23.5 million second-quarter profit and boosted its full-year production guidance following a $200 million drilling production agreement in northwest Oklahoma. The Oklahoma City-based oil and natural gas producer said the joint agreement with an unnamed private investment fund will target the Meramec formation in Major and Woodward counties.

Legislature challenged to decide who doesn’t get a meal: Oklahoma’s budget woes have been curtailing state services for a decade, but Don Hudman said one of the most tragic manifestations can be found in an immobile senior’s home. He is the executive director of the Areawide Aging Agency. That organization offers several programs to help seniors in Oklahoma, Cleveland, Logan, and Canadian counties stay healthy and independent as long as they can. Similar agencies blanket the state, operating with a combination of federal and state money. Because of planned cuts to Oklahoma Department of Human Services funding, Hudman’s agency will likely lose $300,000 in the fiscal year that started July 1 [Journal Record]. Child abuse prevention and at-home care for seniors are the latest services at risk due to shrinking state government.

Tanning bed law improves the state’s standing in fighting cancer: Oklahoma has improved its stature in a national report following the passage of a law banning indoor tanning by minors. But the author of the law, Sen. Ervin Yen, R-Oklahoma City, said the state can do much more to prevent cancer. In the last session, the Legislature passed and Gov. Mary Fallin signed Senate Bill 765, which takes effect Nov. 1. The move changed the state’s stature in the eyes of the Cancer Action Network, which produces “How Do You Measure Up? A Progress Report on State Legislative Activity to Reduce Cancer Incidence and Mortality.”

Legislation opponents ready for legal fight: The Legislature’s critics have waited about two months for their day in court, and now that oral arguments are less than one week away, they said they feel confident. The state is facing three lawsuits that challenge a total of four late-session bills. Lawmakers passed several measures the last week of the session that is projected to raise more than $300 million in new revenue. They include a sales tax on automobiles, a fee on electric and hybrid vehicles, a per-pack fee on cigarettes, and a freeze on the income tax standard deduction rate [Journal Record]. State budget sitting on shaky constitutional foundations.

Summer Rerun: Sales tax holiday is poor policy: This weekend, many Oklahomans will flock to the stores to take advantage of the state’s annual three-day sales tax holiday weekend. Since 2007, shoppers are allowed to buy clothing items under $100 free of state and local sales tax during the first weekend in August. Many retailers report a major boost in business over the weekend that can rival Black Friday. “It will take all of our available staff to handle those three days,” said the President of Drysdale’s Western Wear in a news article last year.

Three days in, OKC district still enrolling students: Oklahoma City Public Schools continues to enroll students and is looking to hire more bus drivers, officials said Thursday. About 41,000 students returned to classrooms Tuesday across the state’s largest district. Another 5,000 or so students who attend charter schools return beginning Aug. 17. Parents can still enroll their children if they haven’t already by visiting the school their children would attend.

Cherokee Nation Promise Scholarship Program Hit With Funding Cuts: The Cherokee Nation has pulled back a partial college scholarship some students were counting on this fall. The Nation sent a letter dated Aug. 2 to 98 incoming freshmen applying for the Cherokee Promise Scholarship program, saying a housing scholarship worth $1,600 per semester was no longer available to them. It affects students at Northeastern, Rogers State, and Connors State. The program will not award scholarships for new students applying for the 2017-18 academic year.

Margaret Hudson Program ceases operation after funding woes: The Margaret Hudson program is closing completely after announcing a major draw-down earlier in the year. In a July 31 letter addressed to “Friends of the Margaret Hudson Program,” board president Michelle Sutton said the agency is ceasing operations due to a “series of financial hardships.” The program for pregnant and parenting teens announced in late April that it was closing its Tulsa location and would operate solely out of its Broken Arrow campus, at 751 W. Knoxville St., for the upcoming school year. Officials with Margaret Hudson could not be reached for comment.

Edmond launches a comprehensive plan rewrite to help city leaders manage how the city will grow in the next few decades: The City of Edmond, with close to 92,000 residents, is looking to the future. The city’s planning department recently launched a six-to-nine-month process to revise Edmond’s comprehensive plan, a visionary document that touches every parcel in the city and guides land use of all kinds, whether it’s a commercial development, housing, or parks. The updated comprehensive plan will serve as an action guide for city leaders to sustain and improve Edmond’s economy and quality of life. The proposal, called Edmond Plan IV, was last updated in 2007.

Push to video visitation should be a financial boon to cash-strapped Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office: The announcement last month by Tulsa Jail officials that on-site visitation was being reduced from six days each week to two is part of a broader effort across the state from jails to move toward a more lucrative video visitation system. In a press release publicizing the jail’s new slimmed-down visitation schedule, Tulsa Jail officials touted an “analysis” of the visitation days of more than 40 jails and prisons. In the announcement, TCSO stated “25 jails and prisons” were analyzed, and only one facility polled “conducted visitation more than two days a week.”

Oklahoma ex-senator pleads guilty to embezzling campaign funds: Former state Sen. Kyle Loveless has apologized for embezzling his own campaign funds for years. “I accept responsibility for my actions, and I am sorry for the difficulties that I have created,” Loveless, 43, stated Thursday in a written admission in his criminal case. The Oklahoma City Republican pleaded guilty Thursday to three felony counts — embezzlement, filing false campaign reports, and perjury.

Two Trump nominees with Oklahoma ties confirmed by U.S. Senate: Two Trump administration nominees with Oklahoma ties were among more than 70 confirmed by unanimous consent in the U.S. Senate on Thursday. Kelly Craft, a Kentucky native married to Tulsa-based coal magnate Joe Craft, was confirmed as U.S. ambassador to Canada. The position has typically gone to big donors — which Craft and her husband are — but which could take on additional weight as the U.S., Canada and Mexico begin potentially contentious trade talks. The Crafts are Kentucky natives and major Republican donors and fundraisers.

Oklahoma Congressman Confirms Run for Re-Election in 2018: An Oklahoma congressman says he plans to run for re-election for the state’s 5th Congressional District in 2018 despite rumors to the contrary. Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Russell said on Wednesday that he has been raising money for re-election to a third term in Congress after a question-and-answer session at the Oklahoma City Economic Roundtable on the Oklahoma City University campus. Russell accused Democrats of spreading rumors to increase donations.

Tom Cole won’t seek the powerful chairmanship of the Budget Committee: U.S. Rep. Tom Cole will not seek the chairmanship of the powerful House Budget Committee after U.S. Rep. Diane Black, a fellow Republican, announced she will run for governor of Tennessee. “Congressman Cole is fully engaged in his responsibilities as chairman of the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education appropriations subcommittee,” said Teresa Davis, the congressman’s spokeswoman. “He has no plans to seek any other position at this time.”

Policy Note

North Dakota’s Norway Experiment: Late one night in October 2015, North Dakota prisons chief Leann Bertsch met Karianne Jackson, one of her deputies, for a drink in a hotel bar in Oslo, Norway. They had just spent an exhausting day touring Halden, the maximum-security facility Time has dubbed “the world’s most humane prison,” yet neither of them could sleep. Halden is situated in a remote forest of birch, pine, and spruce with an understory of blueberry shrubs. The prison is surrounded by a single wall. It has no barbed wire, guard towers, or electric fences. Prisoners stay in private rooms with en suite bathrooms and can cook for themselves in kitchens equipped with stainless-steel flatware and porcelain dishes. Guards and inmates mingle freely, eating and playing games and sports together. Violence is rare and assaults on guards are unheard of. Solitary confinement is almost never used [Mother Jones].