A recent editorial in The Oklahoman discussing tax incentives for the state’s growing wind energy sector fails to note the hypocrisy that one of the leading opponents of the incentives is Harold Hamm, the chief executive officer of Continental Resources, a local oil and gas company.
— MacArthur Foundation (@macfound) April 25, 2016
The billionaire Hamm’s role as a leading member of the so-called Windfall Coalition, which opposes any tax incentives for generating wind power here is as blunt as it gets in the business and political worlds. In essence it’s a case of old-guard fossil fuel producers against new-wave renewable energy creators.
It’s dirty energy versus clean energy. It’s global warming naysayers against environmentalists. It’s the planet destroyers against the planet savers.
What matters even more is that the growth of wind energy is growing exponentially throughout the world as the negative impact of manmade climate change becomes a reality. According to the Wind Energy Foundation, wind power now generates 4 percent of the electricity in the United States, and that number is growing.
— Women4Donald (@w4djt) April 24, 2016
All that apparently doesn’t mean much to or has yet to sink into the minds of members of The Oklahoman editorial board, but it’s the most obvious symbol in the debate of ending tax incentives for companies that produce electricity using wind turbines in Oklahoma. Oil and gas companies get tremendously huge breaks on gross production taxes here, which has contributed to the state’s fiscal problems that now include a predicted $1.3 billion budget shortfall next year.
Maybe the editorial board thinks the newspaper’s dwindling readers have forgotten. Let me remind everyone. In 2014, Gov. Mary Fallin signed legislation into law that set gross production taxes at 2 percent for the first 36 months of a well’s production. The state used to have an overall 7 percent rate. Here’s the article that outlines the state’s recent history when it comes to gross production taxes, and how the oil and gas industry essentially got to set its own tax rate.
The state has lost millions and millions of dollars in revenue through the years giving tax breaks to fossil-fuel production companies, and now the oil and gas industry wants to create an unfair competitive advantage with a rival industry, especially when it comes to natural gas, which can be used by power plants to create electricity.
It’s one industry unabashedly asking government to help it financially beat or hurt its competition. If it happens, doesn’t it violate some type of anti-trust or anti-monopoly law on the federal level or at least the spirit of such laws? What’s worse is that same industry delivers an energy source that emits carbon into the atmosphere that contributes to global warming. It’s the epitome of The Human Error that the state’s and nation’s conservative leaders would side with an industry that is truly the foundational basis of the ongoing destruction of the planet.
The Oklahoman published a recent lengthy yet overwrought article on the tax incentives for the wind energy here, but it didn’t really resolve the issue of how much it’s exactly costing the state or why Oklahomans should subsidize the fossil fuel industry but not the renewable energy industry. The Oklahoman is owned by Philip Anschutz, a Colorado billionaire who made his money in the drilling business. Maybe that has something to do with the article’s huge basic omission and overall tone.
Preston Doerflinger, who works for Republican Gov. Mary Fallin as finance secretary, had this to say in the article: “This [wind] industry is here to stay, and it produces a clean, quality commodity that is profitable. I just think it’s capable of doing that without a government subsidy.”
Maybe so. But then shouldn’t the government subsidy logic apply to the fossil fuel industry here as well?