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The fight over Oklahoma’s 2017 budget shortfall could lead to a pair of tax increases, including the state’s gross production tax rates on oil and gas, beginning next Monday. Gov. Mary Fallin (R) ordered the state legislature back to work after Oklahoma found itself with a $215 million budget shortfall after the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled a tobacco tax passed this year was unconstitutional.
A federal district court dismissed an appeals case that sought to preserve hydraulic fracturing rules issued by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) during the Obama Administration. Citing a “wasteful use of limited judicial resources,” the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals decided not to hear the case since the Trump Administration has already announced its intention to reverse the Obama-era rules in their entirety.
A report released by a pair of anti-fossil fuel activist groups calling for a carbon tax and concrete carbon reduction levels through the year 2050 was met by skepticism from the state’s mining association. In their report, Western Resource Advocates and Conservation Colorado, a League of Conservation Voters affiliate, said “state actions are essential” and that Colorado “must embark on an expansive effort to reduce carbon pollution” so the state can move beyond Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper’s climate goals executive order signed in July. Recognizing the limitations of legislative action, the groups recommended state agencies jump into the driver’s seat on many of their proposals.
President Trump made head way on nominees this month as the administration recently announced the president’s pick for assistant administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Water, David Ross. Ross currently serves as the director of the Wisconsin Department of Justice’s Environmental Protection Unit. The president’s recent announcement set off a chain reaction of praise for Ross, with a lot of it from the West where water is a hot button issue.
A pair of amendments seeking to block Obama administration regulations and enforcement targeting oil and gas passed the House this week. Sponsoring both amendments, Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) sought to push back against a methane rule he insisted was a “job-killing regulation” and a social cost of carbon model he said could “easily be manipulated.”
The state of New Mexico led the way for a half dozen states across the West holding quarterly lease sales on Bureau of Land Management public lands over the last week. BLM New Mexico’s quarterly sale, held September 7, produced revenues of nearly $131 million for 61 parcels located in five counties in the Permian Basin, located in the southeast portion of the state.
A pair of environmental groups filed a lawsuit this week against the Bureau of Land Management, accusing the agency’s oil and gas lease sales in Nevada this past June of sidestepping environmental regulations and “surrendering public lands to oil companies.” The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Sierra Club launched the suit Monday.