Restore Oklahoma Now is withdrawing the initiative petition SQ 795

Restore Oklahoma Now is withdrawing the initiative petition SQ 795.

OEPA is in concert with RON in withdrawing this petition. OEPA has been the driving force behind this effort; with a lot of support from many others. We know many will be disappointed with this action. However, we believe it is much preferable for our Democratic form of representative government to work than to have to resort to the initiative petition process. The legislative process has worked. Teachers are getting an average of a $6,100 pay raise, which is $2,100 more than the petition drive would have gotten them at $4,000.

Having said that we, in concert with RON, are committed to supporting the 75% of the legislators that had the courage to vote for this emergency tax increase as those that are threatening to defeat them engage. We are also committed to opposing any effort to overturn this landmark legislation.

Read the press release below.


April 23, 2018



Initiative Petition on Teacher Pay, GPT Withdrawn


Contact:  Mickey Thompson, Executive Director,  Restore Oklahoma Now  405-640-2555

Dewey F. Bartlett, Jr., Chair, Oklahoma Energy Producers Alliance  918-587-4154


OKLAHOMA CITY – The initiative petition seeking to pump $300+ million into public education by restoring the state’s gross production tax on new wells to seven percent has been withdrawn by organizers of the effort. The founder of Restore Oklahoma Now, Inc., said the group will focus instead on the 2018 legislative elections and participate in a broad coalition to defeat a possible veto referendum to repeal the teacher pay funding package passed last month.

“Restore Oklahoma Now was formed last summer with a single focus — to get our public school teachers a significant pay raise. We had lost faith in the Oklahoma Legislature. We thought taking the issue to voters was the only solution for our teachers,” executive director Mickey Thompson said. “We believe the presence of our initiative petition was a significant factor in the ultimate legislative compromise.

“We view HB 1010xx as a reasonable start. However, any effort in this or a future legislature to reintroduce a reduced GPT will be met with a new initiative petition, or perhaps a veto referendum, to protect funds for public education and other state services priorities,” he said.

The petition leader also said confusion and potential legal conflicts between the detailed allocation of funds in the proposed constitutional amendment and the appropriation of various tax changes contained in the legislative measures enacted last month was another concern.

Thompson added the language in State Question 795 would not have permitted schools to use those additional revenues for operational needs. “Our petition set strict parameters for how the new revenues would be allocated, 80% of it for teacher pay. We were asking voters to pass a teacher pay raise, not additional funds for classrooms,” he said. “And we couldn’t amend an initiative petition at this stage.”

He said the various organizations and individuals who pledged funds for SQ 795 believe their resources should be directed to opposing a possible veto referendum on the education funding package. “We will be at the forefront of any effort to defeat a move to renege on the school/teacher funding package,” he added.


This additional statement provided by Dewey F. Bartlett, Jr., a Tulsa independent oilman and chair of the Oklahoma Energy Producers Alliance (OEPA), the initial organizational member of the Restore Oklahoma Now coalition:

“The Oklahoma Energy Producers Alliance has been a driving force behind the initiative petition to restore the GPT to 7% for all oil and gas production to pay our teachers. While we still think the 7% rate for all production is fair and competitive with other states, we understand that government works best through the legislative process.

“A functioning legislature requires compromise. The compromise established in HB 1010xx is a victory in the quest for moving Oklahoma’s teacher pay toward regional competitiveness, toward helping our beginning teachers make a living wage.

“In that spirit, the OEPA challenges the state’s other oil and gas organizations to join us in strong opposition to any effort, including the rumored veto referendum, to undermine the work of our legislature to begin to address our public education and teacher pay crisis.

“Yes, there is much more to be done, not only in restoring funds to public education, but in many other areas of state government, such as corrections, health services, child services, higher education and transportation.

“OEPA members come from virtually every community in Oklahoma. We are committed to working with the legislature and all stakeholders to find answers to these issues.  We believe our industry must lead. As Oklahoma-based energy producers, we will continue to stand up for our state.”


Money for education: Senate sends historic revenue bill to governor

Oklahoma Senate passed House Bill 1010XX last night. It restores GPT to 5% for all new wells and will raise enough revenue to give our teachers a $6,000 per year raise! We are proud to be the only oil and gas association to have supported a bill that will give our Oklahoma teachers a living wage!

Read about it here

Oklahoma Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Oil, Gas Tax Initiative

Supreme Court rules unanimously In favor of SQ 795.

OEPA has spearheaded and supports this intuitive petition to pay our teachers and bring tax fairness to all producers at 7%, which is lower than any other oil and gas producing state.

Read the article here 


Oklahoma Energy Producers Alliance Installs Dewey Bartlett Jr. as Chair

OEPA renews call for 7% GPT, Vertical Well Protections  TULSA, Okla. – The Oklahoma Energy Producers Alliance (OEPA) elected Dewey F. Bartlett Jr. as chairman at its January board meeting. Bartlett, owner of Keener Oil Company, is a small independent producer with operations mostly in eastern Oklahoma. Bartlett, the former mayor of Tulsa, is a […]

Oklahoma State University research concludes that tax incentives have had no effect on Oklahoma drilling activity.

Oklahoma State University research concludes that tax incentives have had no effect on Oklahoma drilling activity.

“In this paper, we build on this existing literature by examining whether Oklahoma’s severance tax reduction has led to disparate effects for horizontal versus conventional drilling as compared with its neighboring states. These states, particularly Texas, share a similar oil and gas resource potential, which we will use in this paper in order to isolate the effect of the tax policy on development from differences in development due to resource disparities. Our findings suggest that the Oklahoma tax exemption has not increased horizontal drilling activity.” ~excerpt from the study

Read the entire study here.

Damage caused by horizontal fracking – Blaine County

This is what it looks like when a vertical well is fracked into from a horizontal frac job.

The well in this video is the Singer Oil Koetter 1-35. It’s located in 35- 17N-10W of Blaine County Oklahoma. Casing and tubing were shut in, and the pressure blew stuffing box rubbers out. Pride Energy was fracking their Red Land 1H & 2H wells from more than 600 feet away. The Corporation Commission was called to inspect the cleanup. They also filed a well impact form. This is fracing water coming out.

The well in this video was 660 feet away from the horizontal frac. The Corporation Commission has a rule that they have to stay 600 feet away, but they routinely wave that rule. Some horizontal frac jobs are within 50 feet of vertical wells.

This is not good for the environment. This is not good for small operators. This violation of property rights and harm to the environment is not good for Oklahoma.

When the long lateral bill was passed, Representative Weldon Watson said on the house floor that the damage in this video doesn’t happen. The big oil companies at that time said this doesn’t happen. It happens almost every day! In fact, we have access to data that shows 1,000 wells have been hit in Kingfisher Co. alone, and this well was in Blaine County.

Oklahoma started off as outlaw territory. Our state has had an unfortunate history of lawlessness, bribery, and “wild-west behavior“. Unfortunately, this is where we are in the regulatory arena. It is not the Corporation Commission‘s fault; at least not entirely. They don’t have enough resources to count all the wells, much less regulate them.
Big oil companies continue to have much more influence in Oklahoma than any other state. In other words, they get what they want. That is not good for the industry in the long run. The public eventually discovers the game and often times puts a drastic end to it. We need professional and honest regulation. That’s why we at the Oklahoma Energy Producers Alliance have filed a bill to allow the Corporation Commission to self-fund by assessing a small fee on oil and gas. This will allow them to hire the staff they need and free up 8million to go towards our Oklahoma budget problems.

Improperly Plugged Well – Seminole County

If a picture is worth 1,000 words, then this video is worth 10,000 words. This video was filmed close to an old unplugged or improperly plugged hole in Seminole Co., Okla. It was taken 2.5 years ago by an oil field worker on location who said five other wells were hit at the same time. If you listen closely you can hear the frac job over a mile away.

We need a new regulatory regime for horizontal drilling and fracking to protect Oklahoma’s most valuable resource – our drinking water.

Damage to Vertical Well in McClain County

This video shows the damage that was done to a vertical well by a horizontal frac job in McClain County. In this case, the frac fluid migrated up through the tubing and went into the oil tanks of the vertical operator overflowing them. This is becoming a weekly, if not a daily, occurrence.

Why? And how does it get solved?

The problem begins with the rule-making process at the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. Rules determine what and how drilling gets permitted.

The rules have not been changed to address the challenges that come with horizontal drilling. Rule changes take several months and the hearings are dominated by the big horizontal companies. Both OIPA and OKOGA work with big oil companies and testify on their behalf. Almost every attorney that practices with OIPA and OKOGA represents the horizontal drillers and are very adept and experienced at getting their clients what they want.

The judicial process at the Oklahoma Corporation Commission:

The first step is to go before an Administrative Law Judge(ALJ). The ALJ almost always rules in favor of the company wanting to drill and in one case told a protester, “Why do you keep protesting when you know we are always going to let them drill?” The appeal of that decision is the Appellant ALJ, with almost always the same results.

The final step of appeal is before the three Commissioners.

One resolution would be to take every protest before the elected Commissioners. All three are honorable public servants and will almost always do the right thing. This resolution cost upwards of $100,000 to protest before the elected Commissioners. Most small producers stop before they get there.

Oklahoma is the most pro-development oil and gas state. That is a good thing, but only to a point. Almost any company that wants to drill a well can get a permit to do so regardless of the potential harm to vertical well operators, and sadly even at the expense of the environment. The OCC routinely issues permits for these horizontal wells knowing (sometimes even with the horizontal well owner testifying that they will hit the vertical well). Most times horizontal drillers lie at the hearing and say that they will not impact vertical wells and then tell the vertical well operators to shut their wells in, knowing full well they are going to hit them.

Our regulatory body has the responsibility to prevent waste and protect rights. They also have the mandate to prevent oil and gas pollution. Granted they are understaffed. Permitting drilling activity gets almost all of the attention. That needs to change.

OEPA is sponsoring legislation to allow the OCC to self-fund. For 2.4 cents a barrel of oil and the BTU equivalent for natural gas. This would allow the Corporation Commission to fund the staff positions they need to keep up. It would also free up 8 million dollars for the legislature to use to solve the budget problems.We ask the other two petroleum associations to drop their opposition to this bill. Surely all of us that drill for and produce in this state should want a well funded professional regulatory body. The public should demand it!

Video property of Oklahoma News on Youtube. Find official video here.

Oklahoma shaking cut in half but still tops in Lower 48


Okla. shaking cut in half but still tops in Lower 48

Mike Soraghan, E&E News reporter
Published: Wednesday, January 3, 2018

An earthquake in November 2016 shook the bricks off buildings in Cushing, Okla. Jim Beckel/The Oklahoman via Associated Press

The number of earthquakes experienced in Oklahoma dropped more than 50 percent last year, although the state remains one of the most seismically active in the country.

The quakes have been linked to the state’s dominant oil and gas industry and its wastewater disposal practices. The decline in shaking has been attributed to actions by state regulators and a slowdown in the industry.

Oklahoma had 302 quakes last year of magnitude 3 or greater, compared with 624 in 2016.

The state still had more such quakes than any other state in the Lower 48, including California, based on a preliminary review of data from the Oklahoma Geological Survey and the U.S. Geological Survey. Both agencies generally adjust their numbers each year after a review.

Oklahoma is not the most seismically active state, however. Alaska had hundreds more earthquakes than Oklahoma.

The shaking dropped steeply in the Oklahoma City area. In 2016, there were 74 quakes in Oklahoma County, which includes Oklahoma City. Last year, that dropped to 20.

As in 2016, the western Oklahoma counties of Woodward and Grant had the most shaking. But Lincoln County, east of Oklahoma City, saw an increase in the number of quakes last year.

Scientists have known for decades that deep injection of industrial fluid, such as oil field wastewater, can cause earthquakes in rare cases. The fluid seeps into faults, essentially lubricating them, and they slip.

In Oklahoma, oil production methods that create unusually large volumes of wastewater have combined with favorably aligned faults to cause swarms of quakes.

The state had averaged about two quakes a year until 2009, then the number started increasing. It shot upward as drillers moved into northwestern Oklahoma to produce from the Mississippi Lime formation, which creates far more wastewater than conventional production.

The number of earthquakes of magnitude 3 or greater reached 585 in 2014 and peaked in 2015 with 903.

There have been a handful of injuries, and most of the quakes aren’t large enough to do significant damage, but many residents are concerned about the long-term effects on their homes and the difficulty of getting earthquake insurance.

USGS started attributing the rise in earthquake activity to wastewater injection in 2012. But it took until April 2015 for OGS and state officials to publicly acknowledge such a connection. In a deposition last fall, Oklahoma’s former state seismologist said he quit because of political pressure to not link quakes to the oil industry (Energywire, Oct. 20, 2017).

The number of quakes has been declining since late 2015 or early 2016. The drop has been attributed to restrictions on wastewater injection imposed by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission and the price slump that led to decreased production. As the industry has bounced back, production growth moved from the Mississippi Lime to plays known as the STACK and the SCOOP, which produce far less wastewater with the oil.

STACK stands for Sooner Trend (oil field), Anadarko (Basin), Canadian and Kingfisher (counties). SCOOP stands for South Central Oklahoma Oil Province.

Industry officials say the drop in the number of quakes shows the advantage of cooperation between regulators and oil companies. Chad Warmington, president of the Oklahoma Oil & Gas Association, said companies shared data and expertise with state officials.

“The drop in the number of earthquakes is a good example of what happens when the industry and regulators work together to find reasonable, science-based answers,” Warmington said.

Reprinted from Energywire with permission from E&E News. Copyright 2017. E&E provides essential news for energy and environment professionals at For the original story click here.


Deadly H2S gas worrying residents and state regulators

Deadly H2S gas worrying residents, state regulators
Mike Soraghan, E&E News reporter
Published: Friday, December 15, 2017
Emissions of a potentially deadly gas from wells in one of the country’s hottest oil plays have neighbors worrying about their safety and Oklahoma regulators taking another look at their rules.

Foul-smelling hydrogen sulfide (H2S) has escaped from oil wells near Dover, Okla., in recent weeks, starting in November. State officials say the emissions have been reduced to safe levels, and the companies that operate the wells say they never reached levels high enough to require notifying the public.

That isn’t reassuring to Karen Smilie, who lives across the street from one of the wells.

“They’re not issued a violation. Nobody tells the public,” Smilie said in a phone interview. “Not one person knocked on my door.”

She and her neighbors are especially concerned, she said, because many more wells are planned in the area that is in Kingfisher County, part of what’s called the “STACK” play.

Officials say hydrogen sulfide could become a topic in the coming weeks as oil and gas regulators at the Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC) draft new regulations for approval by the state Legislature next year. Agency spokesman Matt Skinner said H2S emissions have usually been in remote rural areas.

“The SCOOP and the STACK involve populated areas,” Skinner said. “We are looking at the H2S rules.”

STACK stands for “Sooner Trend (oil field), Anadarko (basin), Canadian and Kingfisher (counties).” Along with neighbor play the “SCOOP” (South Central Oklahoma Oil Province), it has led the revival of Oklahoma’s oil industry. Both plays reach the western side of the Oklahoma City area.

The Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality is also investigating complaints about the situation in Dover, according to a spokeswoman.

Smilie and her neighbors are organizing a community meeting in Dover on Monday night to discuss the hydrogen sulfide situation.

The gas can cause “nearly instant death” at levels as low as 1,000 parts per million (ppm) in the air, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The well across the road from Smilie’s house registered 900 ppm, according to OCC records. But that is a measure of the H2S flowing up with the fluids inside the wellhead. It’s not a measure of how much H2S was escaping into the air.

Chaparral Energy Inc., which operates the well, said it immediately began treating to reduce the H2S level.

“At no time did the radius of exposure reach the threshold for public notification,” said company spokeswoman Brandi Wessel. There is no OCC notification threshold for Dover, which is not a known H2S area. The threshold for notification in known H2S areas is 300 ppm measured 50 feet from the wellhead.

Chaparral works with regulatory agencies, Wessel said, “to ensure we protect the local communities and environments where we operate.”

Hydrogen sulfide, also called “sour gas,” is a known killer in the oil field. It is often identified by its rotten-egg smell.

It has killed at least seven oil field workers since the beginning of 2013 and in 1975 was responsible for one of the worst oil field accidents in the country. Nine people died in the Denver City, Texas, tragedy, eight of them in a home about 600 feet from the leaking well.

“I basically tell people if they’re living in these areas, they should move,” said Neil Carman, clean air director for the Sierra Club in Texas and a former state inspector. “Hydrogen sulfide is just bad stuff.”

He said there has been concerns for years that the gas could kill children at levels far below what it takes to kill an adult. But there has long been debate about whether frequent exposure to low levels is harmful.

‘It hit me’

The oil and gas industry says such chronic exposure is not dangerous.

“While the smell can be unpleasant, the odor itself is not cause for health concerns,” the American Petroleum Institute (API) states on its website. In a 2010 regulatory filing with other trade groups, API said that chronic health effects are unlikely at levels at or below 5 ppm.

Regulatory agencies, however, say there can be health problems at lower concentrations. OSHA says prolonged exposure to levels as low as 2 to 5 ppm can cause nausea, headaches or loss of sleep. U.S. EPA says lifetime exposure to H2S is unlikely to cause problems as long as the concentration is at or below 0.001 ppm.

The Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality sets the limit at 0.2 ppm. But oil and gas is generally regulated by OCC, which allows higher amounts.

As the concentration increases, the gas deadens people’s sense of smell, making it hard for them to detect the danger.

Smilie said she was at the hospital in mid-November with her husband, who’d had a heart attack, when a neighbor sent her a message that a yellow flag was flying over the well near her house. She didn’t know what that meant, but the neighbor told her it was a warning for hydrogen sulfide.

A few days later, she woke up with a headache. When she walked downstairs and into her kitchen, she said, “it hit me.” She started seeing double and retching. A neighbor took her to the hospital. Heavier than air, H2S often collects in low-lying areas. After that, she and her husband left and stayed for a week in a recreational vehicle they own on property near Stillwater, Okla.

Her house, she said, is 500 feet or less from the wellhead at the Chaparral site. Oklahoma doesn’t have setback rules for oil and gas wells, so they can be built as close to homes as the drillers want. But a home cannot be built within 150 feet of a well.

Corporation commission records indicate Chaparral installed an H2S alarm system, a vapor recovery system, and scrubbers to treat the gas at the wellhead and water tank. Because it took appropriate measures, OCC officials said, the company didn’t violate any rules.

Another well operated nearby by Gastar Exploration Inc. had similar sour gas levels, according to the OCC records, and was the subject of a complaint. Gastar CEO Russ Porter said in an interview that what neighbors smelled was H2S from the well’s produced water. Company officials hadn’t realized it was in the wastewater and have now begun treating it.

Porter added that there have been oil and gas production operations in the area since at least the 1950s.

But many of Smilie’s neighbors told her and friends they didn’t know the odors were caused by a dangerous gas. They also didn’t know that red and yellow flags flying over the well sites were warnings. On Wednesday night, the smell returned, Smilie said, alarming her and her neighbors.

Hydrogen sulfide emissions have been rising during the oil and gas boom that started in the United States around 2010 (Energywire, Oct. 21, 2014).

In Kansas, state regulators received 15 requests to flare gas containing hydrogen sulfide in 2013, up from three in 2012 and none from 2009 to 2011, state records show. Most of those cases involved the Mississippi Lime field, which also underlies Oklahoma.

Oklahoma regulators calculated that oil and gas operators emitted 594 tons of hydrogen sulfide in 2011 and are planning to do more monitoring of air emissions overall. In New Mexico, which shares patches of the sour-gas-producing Permian Basin with Texas, state officials received reports of five hydrogen sulfide releases in 2013, after receiving none in 2012 and four in 2011.

In Texas, the amount of gas from H2S-containing fields rose 48 percent in the five years before 2015, to 1.7 trillion cubic feet.

Shale fields, where the boom has focused, have been known to have high levels of H2S. Parts of the Eagle Ford field in Texas have a maximum concentration of 68,000 parts per million, according to state data, 130 times the lethal level.

EPA has tried to tighten regulations on hydrogen sulfide, with limited success.

Hydrogen sulfide was on the original list of hazardous substances to be included in the Clean Air Act of 1990, which would have required it to be treated and monitored as an air pollutant. But it was removed before the act became law, after heavy lobbying from industry.

In 2011, EPA reinstated reporting requirements for H2S under the Toxics Release Inventory. But most oil and gas wells are exempt because they are small sources that fall below the reporting thresholds.

Reprinted from Energywire with permission from E&E News. Copyright 2017. E&E provides essential news for energy and environment professionals at For the original story click here