So the layoffs begin because of the fracking bust and so does the tragedy that could have been prevented.
Helmerich and Payne, a Tulsa-based rig maker, has announced it’s laying off 2,000 employees because of the world oil glut caused by the hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, boom here in Oklahoma and across the country.
As anyone who reads this blog knows, I’m against the negative environmental impact of fracking, but let me be clear that I’m also against people losing their jobs. I have many friends connected to the energy industry one way or another here in Oklahoma. I don’t want them to suffer through a job loss or even the anxiety they might lose their job.
Helmerich and Payne, of course, is just one company. Many oil and gas companies throughout the country and here in Oklahoma have announced around a 20 percent cutback in spending because the price of oil per barrel has dropped from more than $100 last summer to under $50 today.
The glut was caused because oil and gas companies here in the United States seized the opportunity to frack for shale oil as prices soared. Companies made tons of money, but now there’s a glut, and Saudi Arabia is not going to decrease its own oil production just because energy magnates such as locals Harold Hamm or Aubrey McClendon want to become even richer. The Saudis have every logical right to act as an equalizing force in the market. This is geopolitics at its basic level.
I have two thoughts on this issue today:
Teachers need raises here. Our prison system is overcrowded with non-violent offenders, wasting millions upon millions of dollars each year. Too many people lack health insurance here and need better medical access. The state’s infrastructure, from the crumbling state Capitol building to our roads and bridges, needs improvements.
But here in Oklahoma, we just allow the oil wildcatters to drill, baby, drill, pretty much whenever and wherever they want until they drill us all into misery and despair. They get the cash, the fancy homes and financial security. We get stuck with the big social and money problems when it all collapses. It’s the state’s story. Someone should write a song about it. What we need is a brand new state.