Letter to the Editor: Bad old days

By: Mike Eslick –

Sen. Jim Inhofe’s recent comments at the Port of Catoosa don’t provide much insight into where he has been for the last several years, but I don’t think it has been on this planet.

He and his party have thwarted, obstructed and maligned this president since he took office. Inhofe seems to think all the money has gone to “this far-left environmental stuff.”

If Inhofe wants to come back to reality, he ought to talk about all the money that has gone into two wars that we have fought over the last 10 years —— money that could have been used to build up the infrastructure in this country,

Additionally, Inhofe ought to realize not all Iranians “want to die,” and not all North Koreans are “crazy.” This is characteristic of the inane bigotry of many Americans, many in Oklahoma that Inhofe is trying to cater to in his bid for re-election.

It is reminiscent of the days when so many thought all African-Americans were lazy and all Native Americans were savages. And it is why Oklahoma’s senior senator is not held in very high regard by most thinking people.

READ MORE > Read less >

Jett makes 2nd bid for Congress

By: James Coburn –

TECUMSEH — EDITOR’S NOTE: This is one of a series of profiles on candidates for the 5th Congressional District seat.
Some of the problems facing Oklahoma need to be fixed on the federal level, said state Rep. Shane Jett, R-Tecumseh. As a Republican candidate for the 5th Congressional District, Jett is continuing his goals to bring more and better jobs to Oklahoma and attract the best and brightest young people to stay in Oklahoma, he said.

General infrastructure development is one of the challenges Jett plans to champion if voters elect him to Congress, he said. A lot of former Oklahomans living in other states would return home with their businesses intact if they could have the bandwidth necessary to access faster Internet throughout the state, Jett said.

The Port of Catoosa is a major asset to Oklahoma, but is not being utilized for its full potential, he said.

“We’re using a lot of barges to bring in rolled steel,” Jett said. “We’re sending out a lot of fertilizer aggregate — wheat. It really was designed to bring manufactured goods in and heavy equipment and send out food to populated areas on the coast.”

Jett said there are opportunities to receive imported goods through the Port of Catoosa instead of being backed up at Long Beach, Calif. They could come up the Panama Canal, through the Gulf of Mexico to the Port of New Orleans.

Oklahoma is at the center of the United States with 360-degree distribution potential to enhance transportation efficiency, he said.

“The truth is we don’t know what all could be done with it, because the ingenuity of the American people, with the opportunity created by it, is what really matters,” Jett said.

What does this have to do with the 5th District? “Everything,” Jett said. “Because if you have job opportunities throughout Oklahoma, it creates spin-off job opportunities for the rest of Oklahoma.”

Jett also would like to see more beef processing opportunities in Oklahoma. This would produce a higher return for farmers and ranchers who are raising cattle, he said.

“The purpose of the federal government is to create an infrastructure that liberates the economic potential of a region,” Jett said. “My focus would be infrastructure development and getting the government to focus on things that really open up opportunities and creates an open gate for creativity.”

The Republican field of candidates include Corporation Commissioner Patrice Douglas, state Sen. Clark Jolley, both from Edmond; state Rep. Mike Turner and former state Sen. Steve Russell, both from Oklahoma City; and Harvey Sparks, a former staffer of U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine.

Democrats who have announced their candidacy include retired University of Central Oklahoma professor Tom Guild of Edmond; state Sen. Al McCaffrey and retired federal contractor Keith Davenport, both from Oklahoma City; and former state employee Marilyn Rainwater, of Seminole.

Jett was a 5th District candidate in 2010 when Congressman James Lankford won the Republican primary and was later elected to the post.

During his six years in the Legislature, he served as chairman of the International Relations and Tourism Committee and chairman of the Joint Committee on International Trade. Jett was a member of Energy and Utility Regulations Committee, Appropriations and Budget on General Government and Transportation.

Jett earned a degree in International Business from Oklahoma Baptist University. Legislative Leadership from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. This spring he enrolled in Oklahoma Baptist University’s MBA program.

In 2008, he was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve. He is currently a full lieutenant in the U.S. Navy.

He and his wife, Ana, have two daughters, Raquel, age 9 and Esther, age 4.

Candidate filing for 2014 statewide elections is set for 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 9-11 at the state Capitol. Voters will nominate their party’s candidates on June 24 for the statewide primary election.

A runoff primary election is set for Aug. 26. The general election is scheduled for Nov. 4.

TO LEARN MORE about state Rep. Shane Jett, go to

READ MORE > Read less >

Tulsa’s Arkansas River challenge

By: David Arnett –

The Arkansas is the sixth longest river in America and the second longest tributary to the Mississippi River. Over the course of time in Tulsa it has been polluted then protected both ignored and studied in exhaustive detail. Often slandered, the Arkansas River in Tulsa County now stands as the local challenge of our generation.

The Arkansas is a prairie river that, in major part, supports navigation providing substance for the most inland port in America – The Tulsa Port of Catoosa – after it joins as one of three rivers near Muskogee, south of Tulsa. To the northwest of the metropolitan area the Keystone Dam ends Arkansas River’s “wild prairie” phase as the dam controls water releases to prevent flooding and provide hydroelectric power.

A wild prairie river is a mix of sand and water that braids in ever changing “runs and riffles.” The Keystone Dam prevents downstream migration of sand thus what water flows is now scouring down to bedrock throughout Tulsa County. When rains to the north are frequent, the Arkansas fills from bank to bank, but most often area residents can walk and hop across the river on bedrock without getting their shoes damp. That is not a healthy state for a river.

Beyond any one public vote, the Arkansas River Corridor Master Plan has been under development for over a decade. The effort has always included close cooperation and communication between Tulsa County, the U.S. Corps of Engineers, the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality and other stakeholders.

Cynthia Kitchens, Project Manager, US Corps of Engineers Tulsa Regional Office said, “The Arkansas River in Tulsa County is very important to us.”

Gene Lilly, Water Resource Planner for the Corps said, “There is progress. The Master Plan was developed following Vision 2025 and funded in part by that initiative and by the Corps of Engineers. In 2005 the Master Plan was completed and laid out a connectional plan for the Arkansas River [addressing] flood risk reduction and eco restoration.

“Congress has authorized the Corps to study the Arkansas River in Tulsa County by a specific SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Risk Informed, Timely) Planning Process, Lilly said adding, “Depending on future funding, we can determine Federal interest in cost sharing of projects.

Lilly said, “The Corps supports the Master Plan’s comprehensive collaborative approach to development. The Master Plan is not our plan, but the community’s plan. We provided some funding, but many ideas came from the public, stakeholders, and community leaders. We will be a part of certain aspects of the Master Plan and an example of that is the current effort on Crow Creek.”

That Crow Creek effort is publicly known as “The Gathering Place” currently underway as a private/public development effort led by the George Kaiser Family Foundation and other corporate and individual donors on the east side of the Arkansas River in midtown Tulsa. Lilly said, “The Gathering Place is an example of taking our concepts to the next level.”

READ MORE > Read less >

Inhofe Could Chair Environment Committee

By: Ed Brayton –

Sen. James Inhofe, a startlingly ignorant man, will once again become the chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee if the Republicans retake control of the Senate in the upcoming midterm elections.

Let that thought sink in without shuddering.

“U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe said Tuesday he will again head the Senate committee overseeing transportation and environmental regulation if Republicans win control of the upper chamber in November.
Speaking to about 50 plant managers and others associated with Tulsa Port of Catoosa tenants, Inhofe said a Republican victory would make him chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee…
Under the Senate Republicans’ somewhat complicated rules, Arizona’s John McCain would become Armed Services chairman in the event of a GOP majority, and Inhofe would resume his top position on EPW.”
Bear in mind that this is the kind of “thought” that rattles around in his head:

“Inhofe: Well actually the Genesis 8:22 that I use in there is that ‘as long as the earth remains there will be seed time and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, day and night,’ my point is, God’s still up there. The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous.”
That man shouldn’t be running the night shift at a Taco Bell, much less a Senate committee.

READ MORE > Read less >

Aging Locks and Dams Create Concerns for Companies that Rely on Barges

By: Steve Banker –

Dana Weber, the CEO of Webco Industries, a tubing manufacturer, is speaking out about her concerns about the ongoing lack of sufficient spending on locks and dams on the U.S.’s inland waterways.

Webco, headquartered near Tulsa Oklahoma, was founded in 1969 based on the perceived demand for tubing products across Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Texas. Based on the demand, and the belief that an Oklahoma plant close to their customer base could be cost competitive as long as barges could be used to bring in raw materials, Webco was founded and began shipping in 1970.

Most of Webco’s raw materials originate in the northeastern U.S., although they also receive raw materials from the southeastern U.S. and overseas. Webco has another plant in Pennsylvania, not located near a waterway, that consequently relies on truck – rail for various reasons is not practical – to get most of their raw materials. These goods come from suppliers located for the most part less than 200 miles away. Despite the much greater distances involved, it is cheaper for the Oklahoma plant to receive raw materials from the Northeast via the Port of Catoosa than it is for their Pennsylvania plant to receive materials from local suppliers. Indeed, Ms. Weber says that Webco saves over $4 million per year in freight based upon their usage of barges.

Over time, the advantage of barge transport has only increased. Truck rates have increased much faster than barge rates, and there have been capacity shortages around securing flatbeds. If anything, Ms. Weber believes, those trucking pressures will increase based on the new hours of service rules.
Barge moves do require longer lead times. For Webco the lead times increase from one week to a month with barge, which increases inventory carrying costs. But the freight savings far outweigh inventory carrying costs, especially with the very low interest rates now prevailing.

One downside to the use of barges is that low water levels in late summer and high water levels in the spring can prevent barges from using a waterway. However, Webco has a good advanced understanding of when those events are likely to occur and work with their suppliers to stock up in advance of river disturbances.
However, Ms. Weber’s greatest concern when it comes to barge is the deferred maintenance and aging locks and dams. Ms. Weber’s concerns are not unique. Cargill has been public about their concerns. And the American Association of Port Authorities put out a statement saying that the latest transportation budget proposed in the
President’s fiscal year 2015 budget “falls well short of the waterside maintenance and modernization needs of this country.

Bob Portiss, Port Director at the Tulsa Port of Catoosa, and a Director at the National Waterways Conference, points out that towing service providers are one of the very few industries begging for increased taxes that would then be used to maintain inland waterways. The Inland Waterway Trust Fund is paid for with a 20 cent tax on every gallon
of diesel fuel that the towing services industry uses. But the Trust Fund has not collected enough to meet the backlog of work that needs to be done.

Bob made the point that “Water transportation is one of the least expensive modes of transportation. It allows US businesses to be competitive.” Finally, Ms. Weber points out that the last thing the U.S. transportation infrastructure needs is to shift more products from barges to our highways, which could negatively impact the entire economy due to truck capacity limitations. If anything, the U.S. would get more bang for the buck trying to
get more traffic moving by barge.

READ MORE > Read less >