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Fracking Alert: Lake Hefner Meeting On Thursday

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This is just a short reminder that a public meeting to discuss a proposal by Pedestal Oil Company to drill for oil and gas, which would apparently include fracking, just south of Lake Hefner will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 18, at the Will Rogers Conservatory, 3400 W. 36th St., in Oklahoma City.

It’s an important meeting, which comes at a busy time of the year, because Lake Hefner is a main water supply for Oklahoma City. Environmentalists, as I mentioned in my last post, have long argued that hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, can cause water contamination. Scientists argue that the dramatic surge in earthquakes here in Oklahoma can be linked to wastewater disposal wells used in the fracking process.

The Lake Hefner area is also a major recreational area for the city, with trails and a golf course, and it’s uncertain how drilling activities would impact this aspect of the area in terms of noise, scenic beauty and basic access. It’s difficult to imagine it would do so in any positive manner.

Fracking is a process in which chemicals and water are injected by high pressure into rock formations releasing fossil fuels. The wastewater is then usually injected again by high pressure into wastewater disposal or injection wells, which scientists argue can cause earthquakes along fault lines.

Again, here’s my last post, which goes into more details about the proposal and other related issues. As I wrote, “. . . common sense would dictate a city government would do everything in its power to protect its drinking water.”

Why frack Lake Hefner? Right now, there’s a world oil and gas glut that has driven down prices and could well do damage to the state economy, which is heavily dependent on the energy industry. There are undoubtedly many other places to drill in Oklahoma. Why do it adjacent to an important water supply?

A story mentions that under the current proposal, the Oklahoma City water utilities trust stands to earn 21 percent in royalties from the drilling, but, really, is it worth the risk? If Lake Hefner were to get contaminated with chemical toxins, it would be a major crisis in central Oklahoma.

Don’t Frack Lake Hefner

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(Oklahoma City has sent out a notice that a public meeting on the issue will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 18 at the Will Rogers Conservatory, 3400 W. 36th Street in Oklahoma City. The discussion will be over a proposal by Pedestal Oil Company to proceed with “oil and gas exploration on the Lake Hefner Reservation.”)

Oil prices could drop soon to the $50 a barrel range and earthquakes rumble daily here as oil and gas companies in this country, especially in places such as Oklahoma and Texas, refuse to address the negative economic and environmental consequences of their fiendish fracking frenzy ways.

It’s about as obvious as it gets at this point the boom has gone bust, which it always does and always will, until there’s not a single drop of oil left in the ground here in Oklahoma.

So what does the government of Oklahoma City do in this period of uncertainty in the energy market here? Well, right now, it appears poised to allow a company to deploy directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing or fracking just south of Lake Hefner, one of the area’s main water supplies.

This would be a huge risk for everyone in central Oklahoma, not just for Oklahoma City or people who live near the lake. Environmentalists have long argued that fracking leads to water contamination. Scientists have recently linked earthquakes to the disposal wells used in the fracking process. It’s a filthy process with negative environmental consequences. To allow new fracking near a larger metropolitan city’s water supply would simply be a blatant if not intentionally craven act of sheer madness. Perhaps, that’s too much hyperbole, but common sense would dictate a city government would do everything in its power to protect its drinking water.

Maybe the federal government can get involved to stop it under some type of preventative water crisis management. Surely, there’s some act or law that would allow the federal government to take over the management of a water supply for thousands upon thousands of people. What if Lake Hefner gets polluted and is non-usable for several months or even years?

Oklahoma City has sent out a notice that a public meeting on the issue will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 18 at the Will Rogers Conservatory, 3400 W. 36th Street in Oklahoma City. The discussion will be over a proposal by Pedestal Oil Company to proceed with “oil and gas exploration on the Lake Hefner Reservation.”

The notice indicates the company officials will “present an overview of the project and protective measures that will be taken.” In other words, there’s a real chance citizens will be given little input at that particular meeting as the corporate hacks drone on with double-speak. Will they bring some confusing charts to display and then end the meeting early? It wouldn’t surprise me.

The notice doesn’t specifically mention fracking, but a Facebook site associated with Oklahoma City’s Ward 2 Councilor Ed Shadid notes:

With less than a week's notice, a public meeting will be held in which Pedestal Oil Co. will announce their plans for oil and gas drilling, including directional drilling and fracking, immediately adjacent to Lake Hefner. Three years ago nearly 100 people came to a community meeting to protest. It has been quiet until this week when the OKC Water Trust announced this meeting one week before Christmas. Although this is the busiest of times, please attend if you are interested and able.

Note “one week before Christmas.” This seems like it’s an obvious ploy of collusion between some Oklahoma City officials—not Shadid, of course—and the oil company to limit citizen participation and protest in the meeting. That’s how the power structure operates here. It limits free speech. It marginalizes and bullies. Its trademarks are secrecy and sneakiness and collusion.

The KFOR news site quoted Shadid this way about concerns over the proposal: “For the neighborhoods in ward two, it’s the sounds, the traffic, it’s damage to the area, it’s those, the thousands of people who use the trails in Lake Hefner, it’s any potential risk to the city’s water supply.” Shadid makes great points. It could affect EVERYONE in this area in one way or another.

Meanwhile, The Oklahoman editorial board continues crying over the world’s oil glut caused by the fracking boom that has dropped prices from more than $100 a barrel to the $60 a barrel range in just a few months. Some experts predict it could even go into the $50 a barrel range. I predict it will drop below $50. (I’ve been right before on this issue.) Sure, that’s bad in certain ways for the state economy because of an expected decline in gross production tax revenues and perhaps a loss of some jobs, but this glut was easily foreseeable and the newspaper has done nothing but encourage more and more drilling.

Meanwhile, the fight against the filthy process of fracking continues. The city of Denton, Texas, has even voted to ban fracking within its city limits. (Yes, a TEXAS city voted to ban fracking.)

Fracking is a process in which massive amounts of chemicals and water are injected by high pressure into rock formations releasing fossil fuels. The can lead to drinking water contamination, according to environmentalists. The wastewater is then injected into what are known as disposal wells. The disposal well process is believed by scientists to cause earthquakes. Oklahoma has experienced a dramatic surge in earthquakes during the recent fracking boom. The overall oil and gas industry, with the support of The Oklahoman editorial board, have basically argued there’s no conclusive proof this is the case.

I don’t know how much oil and gas drilling there has been around the Lake Hefner area through the years, and, yes, it’s conceivable that extra measures could be taken to protect one of the area’s main and important water supplies. But, really, why take any chance at all of polluting Lake Hefner?

We need water to survive. We can’t drink or water our lawns with oil.

Lost Okie Pruitt Ogled Funked

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I thought I would follow up my post Wednesday on Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s controversial, colluding and quid pro quo relationship with oil and gas companies by commenting on and promoting Patrick Riley’s take on the same issue.

Riley is the founder and main energy source behind the widely popular and excellent local media outlet, The Lost Ogle, which publishes on a wide range of topics with refreshing and rejuvenating satire and wit. Sometimes, it misses the mark or makes me cringe with its blatant, some would say sexist, “hot girl” material or its focus on goofy, stupid local television news “personalities” I could care less about, but The Lost Ogle has taken on a new significance lately with its enduring community presence and the tragic intellectual decline of the Oklahoma Gazette.

(That’s Riley and I with a couple of friends outside the Hilo in the 1950s in the picture on the right.)

Let’s face it: The Lost Ogle IS the real alternative media outlet in the Oklahoma City area and has been for a few years now. It speaks truth to power. It possesses the biting, satirical edge now, not the Gazette. That’s what matters, and it’s vitally important. The Gazette is trying to find its new niche in an uncertain and changing media market, but its new business model limits substance and sustenance for open-minded thinking people here. It has become what The Oklahoman wants it to be: A freebie no one really reads anymore. If that’s what it takes for it to survive financially, then so be it, but it still makes me sad.

I digress. Here’s Riley’s post on the Pruitt affair. Pretty much, Riley’s views on the Pruitt scandal mirror my own. Here’s my post on the controversy. Riley and I didn’t collude on this story. I haven’t talked to Riley in months. We both responded to Pruitt’s unethical actions organically and energetically as The Oklahoman issued its apologia for an immoral attorney general that uses taxpayers’ money to basically serve the interests of oil and gas companies and to sue the federal government whenever it might make a good story for The Oklahoman. The circle of media life here. Nothing real new there. Life on the plains.

Riley and I referenced a New York Times article published last weekend that led with the discovery that Pruitt once sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency under his own name and office that was actually written by an employee of the Devon Energy Corporation, an Oklahoma City-based company. The letter argued the EPA was overestimating the pollution caused by new gas well drilling.

Leave aside the gas well issue. Here’s what matters: Pruitt passed off someone else’s writing as his own. He did so for the benefit of one industry. He has received campaign contributions from that industry and, specifically, from Devon’s political action committee, which I noted in my last post. It’s quid pro quo. The Oklahoman then published an editorial actually DEFENDING Pruitt and even encouraging more plagiarism, favoritism and what I would describe as political bribery.

Riley makes the point in more creative and contemporary relevant language than I can muster these days. Here’s just a taste of his sardonic voice:

The Oklahoman followed their report of the Times story with an editorial on Wednesday that defended Scott Pruitt with the intensity of a pre-2003 Mike Stoops defense. It’s so fair and balanced that it reads like Devon Energy wrote it for Scott Pruitt, who then sent it to The Oklahoman for publication, who then actually published it because that’s what the paper does for their cronies and BFFs.

Like most Oklahoman editorials, it reeks of hypocrisy, contains fallacious arguments and jumps to insane conclusions. . . .

My overall point is that when Riley and I, without any collusion, get animated and sort of rhetorically angry and expend a lot of intellectual energy exposing the latest unethical politician in this place, then people should take note, or alas, I hope they take note. I’m not arguing Okie Funk has the reach or will ever have the hits of The Lost Ogle. What I’m saying is that both Riley and I are heavily invested in this community, and though we have different approaches and backgrounds, we do our best to try to keep things honest. What Pruitt did and is doing is WRONG.

Here’s some honesty: Riley is a former student of mine, who has told me I was only his second-best professor. My former wife, Kelly Dyer Fry, is the top editor of The Oklahoman. We divorced in 1995. She’s the mother of my two grown children, one of whom is Sam Hochenauer, a local musician who often played music at the now-closed VZD’s, still owned I guess by Chad Bleakley, the son of Bill Bleakley, who owns the Gazette. I have written commentaries in the past for the Gazette. I could go on.

The Oklahoma City area is a small world, which sometimes for me is a suffocating small world filled with the anxiety that any day now the local power structure will drop its sledge hammer on me. I think Riley and I are doing our best to speak up and help other Oklahomans to feel free and comfortable to speak up, too. Pruitt probably won’t suffer any political consequences because of his unethical actions and The Oklahoman continues to be the worst big city newspaper in the country, but Riley took the time in a longer, extensive commentary to note all this with acerbic wit and style. I’m proud of him. He IS the reason God made Oklahoma, people. At least I think that today.

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