Statement In Response to CPI article:
In 1993, leaders representing Oklahoma’s oil producers and royalty owners, working with the Oklahoma State Legislature, formed the Oklahoma Energy Resources Board. Oklahoma’s natural gas producers joined soon after. Our mission is simple: To use the strength of Oklahoma’s largest industry to improve the lives of all Oklahomans through education and restoration.
More specifically, through voluntary contributions paid by producers and royalty owners, the OERB has provided STEM resources, curriculum and training for more than 14,000 Oklahoma teachers at no cost to them or their school district. We have also restored more than 15,000 orphaned and abandoned well sites at no cost to landowners or taxpayers, employing Oklahoma contractors along the way. We are proud of the work of the OERB and the positive impact we’ve had on Oklahomans.
A recent article by the Center for Public Integrity and State Impact Oklahoma about our education programs and overall organization is very disheartening and quite candidly, contain several inaccuracies. Below is a full analysis of the article along with accurate information about our programs.
For media inquiries, contact:
Dara McBee- OERB Communications Director
OERB Fact Check:
First, both reporters specifically list “environmental” as one of their writing topics but never once asked about our environmental cleanup program. The OERB has cleaned up more than 15,000 well sites. This is 51% of the OERB’s budget and one of our main missions.
Wording found in these pieces can be misleading. We want to make it clear that no taxpayer funds are used for any OERB programs. We are voluntarily funded by oil and natural gas producers and royalty owners. NO individual taxpayer funds are used.
Myth #1: OERB curricula denies global warming and climate change.
FACT: The OERB’s curricula is developed to align with current Oklahoma Academic Standards.
Myth #2: Our education programs are led by advertising and PR-strategists
FACT: The K-12 curricula and all supporting content is written and developed by teams of Oklahoma educators and are continually modified and reviewed by a curriculum coordinator, who has a doctorate in curriculum and instruction.
Our advertising contractor plays no role in the development of curricula. We made this abundantly clear to reporters via email on 6/13.
Also, the OERB’s education director position is an administrative role, working beyond the K-12 program. The education director oversees all education programs including scholarships, technical training, well site safety and teacher workshops. The education director does not write any curricula or train teachers.
Myth #3: The OERB provides field trips “so long as the exhibits highlight petroleum.”
FACT: The OERB provides field trips to eleven museums across the state as a supplement to the curricula. The OERB pays for the field trips, through the voluntary contributions from the oil and natural gas industry. However, teachers and students attend the field trips on their own.
All of the museums have an energy-related class or exhibit, but are not solely oil and natural gas museums and highlight many other science concepts. However, it’s common sense that we would want students to learn about the energy industry on field trips.
The museums create their own oil and natural gas exhibits or classes. The materials presented are under each museums’ purview. The presenters are museum employees.
Myth #4: "Oklahoma’s energy resources board (sic) has pitched its programs and pro-industry ads to trade groups."
FACT: We have offered assistance in an advisory capacity when approached by other states.
We have not “pitched” our programs. The OERB is open to helping other states with the development of similar programs, both educational and environmental.
Myth #5: "Where the board draws the line between industry promotion and youth education is unclear."
FACT: It is very clear where we draw the line on education and advertising. Our well site safety campaign is the only advertising that is geared toward K-12.
We answered this question via email and our chairman emailed them directly on this issue. Below is the statement sent to the reporters on Tuesday, June 13:
“Regarding advertising efforts targeted to K-12, the OERB has an annual well site safety campaign, which includes commercials and advertisements to spread awareness about the dangers of playing near well sites. This is the only advertising directed to K-12. If just one child is kept safe through the awareness this program created, it is well worth the effort.”
Even more, none of our curricula is ever developed or written by anyone other than trained education professionals. This was also made clear to the reporters.
Myth #8: OERB spends $3.5 million on K-12 efforts
FACT: As outlined by the OERB’s budget, which we provided to these reporters and can only assume they did not read carefully, $1.6 million was spent on K-12 curriculum. There was no mention of the over $500,000 given to college scholarships and a technical training program. Additionally, $155,000 was given in sponsorships for educational organizations and over $500,000 on public service announcements to children specifically so they are aware of the dangers of playing around well sites.
Both articles only used biased sources to support their points. However, all of the Oklahoma educators interviewed for these stories had nothing but positive things to say about our program. In fact, there were many other supportive quotes from teachers they interviewed that they could have included but did not.
We answered every question, and gave each reporter a great deal of information. We were and are totally transparent. It is unacceptable that the only sources used by these reporters are known agitators of the oil and natural gas industry.