Can you provide a robust and informative summary of Oklahoma’s complex tax-credit debate in 80 seconds? No?
A KOCO story by Mecca Rayne couldn’t either.
Rayne’s piece Tuesday evening included the cover of a propaganda booklet, stock footage of wind farms and several quotes from Rep. Kevin Calvey (R-OKC) who wants to repeal the state’s tax credits for wind energy.
And that’s all it included.
Rayne, her producers and KOCO web editors gave the story a shocking online headline without breaking down or explaining its claims: Citizens’ tax dollars headed overseas in form of tax breaks for wind industry.
Are tax dollars really “headed overseas,” or is this a parroting of an advocacy group’s narrative? Either way, what does that actually mean? What are the numbers? Who are the main players involved, and does everyone involved really think it’s inappropriate for foreign businessmen to invest money on Oklahoma soil?
KOCO’s story answered none of those questions, and it interviewed only Rep. Calvey — a notorious proponent of feckless notions — while ignoring the larger forces behind the anti-wind-credits effort.
From a StateImpact report in March about the organized cause:
The campaign has found support with other oil and gas executives and the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association, a pro-industry group. Together, they’re calling for an end to all state wind energy incentives. They also want even tougher siting rules and a new state tax on wind production.
“We’re proposing that wind be taxed at 2 percent for the first three years and then 7 percent just like oil and gas,” (Continental Resources CEO Harold) Hamm told The Oklahoman’s Paul Monies. “Full parity.”
Jeff Clark with the Wind Coalition says oil and gas executives are not interested in a level playing field.
“They’d like to eliminate any incentives available. Only for my industry, not for their own,” he says.
In contrast, KOCO’s story gave only one side of the ongoing argument over wind energy credits. That’s the sort of greenhorn reporting that collegiate journalism professors would send back to students with a big fat “X” on it that might as well stand for “fiX this dogshit.”
Credits already set to expire
The fact that wind’s tax credits are being criticized by the oil and gas industry in 2016 is a three-ring political circus by itself. Companies like Hamm’s have fared well thanks to their own significant state tax credits, and some have critiqued the Legislature’s friendly renegotiation of horizontal-drilling taxes.
Hamm is on record wanting wind energy taxed at a rate similar to oil and gas, and in 2015 the Legislature established end dates for the state’s two primary wind credits. One of the credits will end this year, and the other is set to expire in 2020.
Now, Hamm and others are back at the Capitol asking people like Rep. Calvey to push for faster repeal of the wind credits.
With funneled and one-sided reports like this KOCO story, they just might get it.