Listen to this article here
A total of $560 million from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law has been awarded to 24 states to begin plugging, capping, and reclaiming orphaned oil and gas wells, the Department of the Interior announced on Thursday.
With 1,196 oil and gas wells in need of reclamation, Oklahoma will receive $25 million in funding for the projects, even as the state’s governor and congressional leaders blast the Biden Administration for “socialist” federal spending.
Orphaned oil and gas wells create pollution that harm communities, as methane, which is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide, can leak from the unplugged wells, contributing to climate change.
Out of the 24 states receiving funding, only Kentucky and Kansas have more orphaned wells than Oklahoma. The investments to clean up the hazardous sites will provide “good-paying union jobs, catalyze economic growth and revitalization, and reduce harmful methane leaks,” according to a White House press release.
“President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is enabling us to confront long-standing environmental injustices by making a historic investment to plug orphaned wells throughout the country,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “At the Department of the Interior, we are working on multiple fronts to clean up these sites as quickly as we can by investing in efforts on federal lands and partnering with states and Tribes to leave no community behind.
Oklahoma governor calls Biden student loan cancellation “socialism”
Meanwhile, after President Biden announced on Wednesday a historic decision to cancel $10,000 in student loan debt for struggling Americans, Oklahoma’s conservative leaders were quick to condemn it.
“Between the “Inflation Reduction” Act and $300 billion in student loan socialism, President Biden has authorized over $1 TRILLION in spending in 2 weeks. This reckless spending hurts families,” Oklahoma’s Republican Governor Kevin Stitt tweeted on Wednesday.”
Between the "Inflation Reduction" Act and $300 billion in student loan socialism, President Biden has authorized over $1 TRILLION in spending in 2 weeks.
This reckless spending hurts families.
That's why I am pushing for tax cuts here in Oklahoma. We need inflation relief NOW!
— Governor Kevin Stitt (@GovStitt) August 24, 2022
Stitt’s condemnation of Biden’s investment in the American people comes a month after the Department of Education released a report recommending the “fiscally-conservative” governor return over $650,000 in misspent Covid relief funds.
“Oklahoma did not award all of its GEER grant funds in accordance with the CARES Act, Federal regulations, Department guidance, and GEER grant conditions,” the federal report found.
A joint investigation between Oklahoma Watch and The Frontier revealed Gov. Stitt’s Bridge the Gap Digital Wallet program gave out $1,500 in grants to families with little oversight.
The money was meant for computers, school supplies and other educational materials. Instead, families purchased “Christmas trees, smart watches, sofas, televisions and refrigerators totalling $652,720,” the joint investigation reported.
Federal government forgives over $700,000 in PPP loans for Oklahoma U.S. Senate candidate
Republican Markwayne Mullin, a former Oklahoma Congressman who recently received the GOP nomination for one of Oklahoma’s U.S. Senate seats, also criticized the Biden administration on Wednesday.
“There is no such thing as free lunch,” Mullin tweeted.
There is no such thing as free lunch.
— Markwayne Mullin (@RepMullin) August 24, 2022
Meanwhile, Twitter users were quick to highlight the perceived hypocrisy of his statement. Mullin was one of several members of Congress who took out PPP loans for his private business during the pandemic, with those loans eventually being fully forgiven.
Mullin Plumbing Inc. received a $706,800 PPP loan for payroll expenses. Including interest, the federal government forgave $711,453, according to ProPublica, which tracked every company approved for federal loans.
Hypocrisy is a millionaire who took $700,000+ in forgiven PPP loans doesn't want those making under $125,000 to receive $10,000 in forgiven debt. https://t.co/3qYKwq8xme
— Sherry B (@OkieLibSherry) August 24, 2022
As Oklahoma’s conservative leaders remain vocal in their opposition to Democratic policies, they rarely voice their appreciation for the federal funds they accept.
According to the White House press release, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law delivers the largest investment in tackling legacy pollution in American history, including through a $4.7 billion investment to plug orphaned wells.
The Thursday announcement is an investment in 24 states represents an overall $1.15 billion in Phase One funding announced in January by the Department for states to plug and remediate orphaned wells.
It’s unclear when or if Gov. Stitt or Markwayne Mullin will highlight this investment by the Biden administration on their Twitter accounts.