Devon Energy, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and U.S. Sen. James Lankford are targets of a new political piece by the New York Times, accusing the three of working to overturn climate rules and regulations aimed at controlling the oil and gas industry.
Entitled “How Rollbacks at Scott Pruitt’s E.P.A. Are a Boon to Oil and Gas”, one of the authors is Hirokio Tabuchi, known for her climate-support and anti-Pruitt stories. Another is Pulitzer-prize winning reporter Eric Lipton, known for stories about corporate agendas.
The Times contends Devon Energy reversed an agreement to pay a six-figure penalty for leaks of dangerous gases at a site in Fremont County, Wyoming just five days after Scott Pruitt became head of the EPA. The company also indicated in a Feb. 22 letter it would not move ahead with installation of an emissions-control system.
The New York Times article stated: “The rollbacks cap a carefully coordinated campaign over the last eight years led in part by Devon, which is based in Oklahoma City and is the nation’s eighth-largest natural gas producer, and Mr. Pruitt, who served six years as Oklahoma attorney general before Mr. trump named him E.P.A. chief.”
The authors pointed out how cozy Pruitt was with Devon in his years as attorney general. Not to be left out, Sen. James Lankford was mentioned for helping Devon too.
“Devon made targeted contributions to sympathetic Republican lawmakers, who introduced legislation to block the rules or collected signatures among their colleagues on letters pressing federal agencies to back down,” wrote Tabuchi and Lipton. They described Lankford initially as a Senator from Utah but later correctly identified him as from Oklahoma. He was described also as “a particular favorite of Devon as he repeatedly co-sponsored bills” friendly to Devon.
Ironically, Devon was in the news over the weekend for taking a reported direct role in negotiating a failed effort in the Oklahoma legislature to raise the gross production tax on oil and gas in the state. Larry Nichols, chairman emeritus at the company had been asked to confirm that a 5% tax on new wells for 3-years would cause enough harm to the industry that it would result in layoffs.
Unconfirmed reports to OK Energy Today indicate that in the midst of the secret negotiations involving the governor and leaders of the Republican and Democratic leadership in the legislature there had been a claim that Nichols didn’t think a 5% tax would harm the industry.
Wanting to confirm such a claim, the governor phoned Nichols who responded that a 5% tax would indeed harm the industry.