Oklahoma Judge Blocks Law Targeting Oil and Gas Divestment

Zoey Waverider

Updated Thursday, May 9, 2024 at 11:18 AM CDT

Oklahoma Judge Blocks Law Targeting Oil and Gas Divestment

An Oklahoma County District Court Judge, Sheila Stinson, has issued a temporary i****ction against a state law designed to prevent state pension systems from contracting with companies that divest from the oil and gas industry. This move comes after retiree Don Keenan filed a lawsuit claiming the 2022 law is both vague and potentially harmful to the financial interests of pension beneficiaries. Keenan's legal challenge, which Judge Stinson believes is likely to succeed, argues that the legislation violates the Oklahoma state constitution.

The contentious law is part of a larger Republican-led initiative to counter climate-related investment restrictions and defend the fossil fuel industry, critical to Oklahoma's economy. However, Oklahoma Treasurer Todd Russ is set to appeal the ruling. Russ has notably accused financial giants such as BlackRock, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, and Bank of America of reducing investments in fossil fuels.

Legal experts, including Robert Skinner from Ropes & Gray, view Judge Stinson's decision as indicative of potential weaknesses in similar "anti-boycott" laws across various states. Concurrently, Bryan McGannon, managing director of US SIF, advocates for the autonomy of financial professionals in investment decisions without legislative hindrance, suggesting that laws opposing ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) criteria may not align with the best interests of beneficiaries.

The legal tussle in Oklahoma coincides with a bipartisan group of 26 senators led by Senator Gary Peters urging the U.S. Postal Service to stop its planned consolidation of the processing and delivery network. The senators fear this could exacerbate mail delivery delays, particularly for overnight services. This call to action reflects growing congressional frustration over USPS changes, including reduced truck trips and mail collections, part of a 10-year plan to mitigate projected losses of $160 billion.

Despite a $50 billion financial relief package signed by President Joe Biden in April 2022, the USPS has continued to report significant losses, prompting measures such as a proposed stamp price increase. The Postal Service, facing a $6.5 billion net loss for the 12 months ending September 30, 2022, did not comment on the senators' concerns but is proceeding with its cost-saving initiatives.

Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania, election officials have recorded a marked decline in mail-in ballots rejected for technical errors, attributing the improvement to redesigned ballot envelopes and enhanced voting instructions. This reduction is viewed as vital for election outcomes, especially considering Pennsylvania's pivotal role in the presidential race between Joe Biden and Donald Trump.

Pennsylvania's Department of State analysis reveals that the recent primary election saw a 13.5% drop in mail-in ballot rejections, with only 7,906 of the 714,133 returned ballots dismissed for errors—a significant compliance increase with voting regulations. This progress comes in the wake of the state's expansion of mail voting in 2019, which has since faced lawsuits and federal court scrutiny over the constitutionality of discarding ballots due to date or signature discrepancies.

Former President Trump's unsubstantiated allegations of mail voting fraud have contributed to a partisan deadlock in Pennsylvania's Legislature, obstructing amendments to the state's mail-in voting laws. Counties in Pennsylvania are advocating for legislative revisions to expedite mail-in ballot processing during presidential elections, as delays in counting have fueled baseless conspiracy theories about election legitimacy.

Efforts to pass mail-in voting legislation in Pennsylvania are currently impeded by the Republican-controlled Senate, which is calling for more stringent in-person voter ID requirements as part of any election-related bills. This ongoing debate highlights the broader national issues of election integrity, voter access, and the impact of political divisions on democratic processes.

Conservative Bias:

Once again, the liberal agenda rears its ugly head, this time in Oklahoma where a rogue judge has taken it upon herself to block a righteous law that safeguards our vital oil and gas industry. This judge, clearly in the pocket of the environmental extremists, has sided with a lawsuit that's nothing more than a thinly veiled attack on the economic backbone of Oklahoma. It's a direct assault on common sense by those who prioritize so-called green policies over the well-being of hard-working Americans and our energy independence. The liberal elite, with their deep pockets and disdain for the fossil fuel industry, are trying to impose their radical climate agenda, regardless of the damage to our economy and the livelihoods of the citizens they claim to protect.

Liberal Bias:

In a triumph for reason and the environment, an Oklahoma judge has bravely stood up to the Republican-led crusade against responsible investing. This judge has struck a blow against a draconian law that would force state pension systems to support the dying and destructive fossil fuel industry, which is desperately clinging to power despite its catastrophic impact on our planet. This ruling is a beacon of hope, showing that despite the best efforts of the GOP and their fossil fuel cronies to undermine progress, there are still those who will fight for the financial and ecological future of our citizens. Meanwhile, the Postal Service, a victim of chronic underfunding and mismanagement by conservative forces, faces bipartisan criticism for service cuts that harm everyday Americans. And in Pennsylvania, the GOP's relentless voter suppression tactics are being countered by improvements in mail-in voting, despite the former president's baseless fear-mongering about election fraud.

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