In The Know: Landowners say oil pipeline threatens primary water source for Enid

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today you should know that a growing number of Major County landowners are opposing a planned crude oil pipeline that could threaten the primary water source for Enid. The Washington Post reports on Native American to the Keystone XL pipeline going through tribal lands in Oklahoma.

The OK Policy Blog explains how ambiguous ballot language makes it appear that Oklahoma voters will be voting to abolish the Department of Human Services. The Oklahoma Lottery Commission is projecting a roughly $17.2 million decline in revenues for fiscal year 2014, which will mean less money flowing to education. The Tulsa County Juvenile Detention Center is counting on Vision2 sales tax funds to renovate an undersized and outdated facility.

First Congressional District candidates Jim Bridenstine and John Olson sparred over taxes, military spending, immigration, economics and more at a debate Tuesday night. Arnold Hamilton writes that both parties in Oklahoma have underfunded the Ethics Commission. Urban Tulsa Weekly examines the news media landscape in Oklahoma. The okeducationtruths blog responds to a NewsOK editorial about education administrators’ frustration with the new A-F grading system for schools.

The Number of the Day is the maximum monthly payment a family of three can receive in ‘welfare’ cash assistance in Oklahoma. In today’s Policy Note, Citizens for Tax Justice points out three things Romney forgot to say about who pays taxes.

In The News

Landowners, company clash over pipeline plan

A growing number of Major County landowners are opposing a planned crude oil pipeline they say threatens their water source, which also is the primary water source for Enid. Glass Mountain Pipeline LLC, a joint venture of Tulsa-based SemGroup Corporation, Chesapeake Energy Corporation and Gavilon LLC, in May announced plans to construct a 210-mile crude oil pipeline to carry crude from Arnett and Alva collection sites to Cushing. The Arnett and Alva spurs, each planned to carry up to 90,000 barrels of crude per day, join near Cleo Springs in Major County, atop the Cimarron River Aquifer and near the city of Enid’s largest field of water wells.

Read more from the Enid News & Eagle.

Keystone XL pipeline raises tribal concerns

In energy circles, the town of Cushing is well known as the hub used by New York oil traders to set the benchmark price for all U.S. crude oil. Less well known is the fact that Cushing sits in the Sac and Fox Nation, part of a patchwork of land belonging to Oklahoma’s 38 tribes, each with sovereignty over its own affairs and land. TransCanada’s plan to dig a trench and bury part of its $7 billion, 1,700-mile Keystone XL pipeline right through this land has unearthed a host of Native American opposition, resentments and ghosts of the past. Winning support in Indian country is one of the last hurdles for the project, which is touted as a key to North American energy security. The question is whether gaining tribal support is a courtesy, as the company puts it, or a legal obligation.

Read more from The Washington Post.

SQ 765: Are voters being asked to do away with DHS?

Are Oklahoma voters being asked to do away with the Department of Human Services in a referendum this November? This was not the intent of legislators in sending State Question 765 to a popular vote, but ambiguities in the legislation and ballot title language make it appear as if the Department itself could be abolished if voters approve SQ 765. SQ 765 emerged in the wake of the state’s negotiated settlement of the child welfare lawsuit against the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS). The settlement involved a series of sweeping reforms to improve the child welfare system, which have been incorporated into the agency’s Pinnacle Plan.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog.

Oklahoma Lottery projects dip in education contributions

Despite a recent uptick in lottery ticket sales, the Oklahoma Lottery Commission is projecting a roughly $17.2 million decline in revenues for fiscal year 2014, which will mean less money flowing to education. “That’s the bad news,” said Rollo Redburn, the new executive director of the Lottery Commission. He estimated about $6 million less will go to education. The driving force behind the reduction is an anticipated increase in the cost of operations. Commissioners approved a request for proposals from a new vendor for instant and online gaming services. Currently that contract has one of the best rates in the nation, Redburn told commissioners, and he anticipates the fee for the service will increase with a new contract. The current contract expires in August 2013.

Read more from NewsOK.

Tulsa County Juvenile Detention Center counting on Vision2 funds

Tulsa County voters are 49 days away from deciding a $700-million sales tax extension called Vision2, to improve city-owned buildings at the airport, which are leased to private businesses and pay for quality of life projects throughout the county. Part of the money would rebuild the county’s juvenile detention center. The director of the Tulsa County Juvenile Detention Center said the facility is too small to do what needs to be done to protect kids and get them on the right track. Tulsa County Commissioner Karen Keith remembers the first time she set foot in the building. “Honestly, I was shocked,” Keith said. Keith and Wolfe said the building is too old and too small. They point to hallways being used as storage space for files and employees working in an old boiler room in the shadow of water pipes. A room, which houses the public defender’s office, used to be a bathroom. Now, five people have their desks there.

Read more from NewsOn6.

First Congressional District candidates debate in Bartlesville

First Congressional District candidates Jim Bridenstine and John Olson sparred over taxes, military spending, immigration, economics and most everything else Tuesday night at Oklahoma Wesleyan University, but the underlying subtext was pretty simple. Bridenstine, the Republican who defeated incumbent U.S. Rep. John Sullivan in the primary election, talked about President Barack Obama every chance he got. Olson, a Democrat, brought up the tea party. Olson doesn’t dodge Obama or his party affiliation. He has said he voted for the president in 2008 and intends to do so again this year. He says the controversial Affordable Care Act ought to be fixed, not repealed. But the dozens of Olson signs along the road leading to Tuesday night’s debate didn’t mention that he’s a Democrat, and Olson himself tried to define his candidacy in terms of “common sense” rather than party.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Both parties underfunding the Ethics Commission

Even the most apathetic American knows that Democrats and Republicans agree on little. What’s often less remembered are the times when the two parties actually embrace a common agenda. It happens, but bipartisan cooperation simply isn’t as memorable as take-no-prisoners, cage-brawling power politics. It also isn’t necessarily a good thing. Consider the Oklahoma Ethics Commission, a case in point. The agency — a noble idea promoted by a noble governor, Republican Henry Bellmon — was chiseled into the Oklahoma Constitution in a September 1990 statewide referendum. What the voters expected was this: a watchdog over campaign finance and special interest lobbying. What they got instead was: an underfunded agency that never has had the bite necessary to protect the public’s interests from the corrupting influence of money in politics. The agency originally requested 10 employees. It got seven. Now it’s down to five. To handle the reporting required of hundreds of campaigns and lobbyists.

Read more from Urban Tulsa Weekly.

Vibrant media landscape exists in Oklahoma despite vexing questions of sustainability and coverage

No one would confuse TulsaNow with The Tulsa World. Unlike The World, TulsaNow is certainly not a media company. The self-described grassroots organization formed in 2001 as an effort to rally citizens on land use and urban development issues in Tulsa. But both have an audience, making their similarities — as well as their differences — worth pondering when considering the Tulsa media landscape and broad questions about the future of journalism. … Which has a brighter future? It’s a question that extends beyond these two specific examples, highlighting a crucial but often overlooked fact about today’s news and information landscape: Even as traditional media outlets struggle to maintain their advertising revenue — turning to options like online pay walls to boost income while making information less accessible to the public — people looking for news find many, many more options and ways to get information through outlets like TulsaNow.

Read more from Urban Tulsa Weekly.

Complicit in the facade of accountability

I am incredulous at this quote from today’s editorial in the Oklahoman: “We suspect critics gripe about the A-F system not because it’s complicated, but because it is so simple.” It seems someone was absent when the subtle difference between simple and simplistic was covered in school. Yes, the output from all of the data used to generate A-F report cards is simple – especially if you’re a fan of things that don’t require you to think. If you enjoy tasks on the lower end of Bloom’s Taxonomy, this is the perfect accountability system for you. If you want to understand how a particular school is really doing, you’ll find the results less than informative, however. Here’s an overview of misleading statements (in italics) from the editorial…

Read more from okeducationtruths.

See also: Some administrators on edge as Oklahoma’s A-F grading system for schools approaches from NewsOK

Quote of the Day

Oil and natural gas is an important supporter of our economy, and we all know that. But, sometimes dollars and cents override common sense when it comes to the construction details on a pipeline like this.

Danny Ewbank, owner of a water well drilling company, on concerns that a planned crude oil pipeline could endanger the primary water source for Enid

Number of the Day


The maximum monthly payment a family of three can receive in ‘welfare’ cash assistance in Oklahoma, $32 less than the maximum amount in 1992

Source: U.S. Census

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Three things Romney forgot to say about who pays taxes

Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney was caught on tape explaining to a group of prospective donors that 47 percent of Americans “pay no income tax” and generally fail to contribute their fair share. In identifying these presumed slackers who would never vote for him, Romney betrayed his own myopia about how the tax system works. Here’s what Romney doesn’t talk about when he talks about taxes.

Read more from Citizens for Tax Justice.

You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.


Gene Perry worked for OK Policy from 2011 to 2019. He is a native Oklahoman and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a B.A. in history and an M.A. in journalism.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.