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PM NewsBrief: Jan. 11, 2024

This is the KGOU PM NewsBrief for Thursday, January 11, 2024.

Chesapeake Energy and Southwestern Energy Are Merging

Oklahoma City natural gas giant Chesapeake Energy and Texas-based Southwestern Energy are merging.

The new company will be one of the largest natural gas companies in the U.S.

The agreement has an all-stock value of $7.4 billion and the new company will take on a different name once the merger is complete.

Nick Dell’Osso, Chesapeake’s president and CEO, will be the president and chief executive of the new company.

Its headquarters will be in Oklahoma City and will maintain a presence in the Houston area. This comes at a time when natural gas prices have been in decline.

The deal is targeted to close in the second quarter of 2024.

Stardust Power Plans To Build Lithium Refinery In Muskogee

An energy manufacturer plans to build a battery-grade lithium refinery in Muskogee.

The Oklahoma Department of Commerce announced Thursday that Stardust Power expects to break ground on the new facility in the next few months.

Stardust officials say there is currently no large-scale refinery for battery-grade lithium in the U.S.

The company says it selected Muskogee because of its central U.S. location, energy skilled workforce and the state’s status as an emerging national leader in sustainable power.

Stardust Power is expected to be eligible to receive up to $257 million in state and federal economic incentives for the facility build-out.

The lithium refinery is expected to create hundreds of new jobs.

Superintendent Ryan Walters Threatens Breakup With Statewide Education Organizations

State Superintendent Ryan Walters is hurling big accusations at statewide education organizations.

Walters threatened Wednesday that his department is likely ending long-standing relationships with them.

Walters threatened the State Department of Education is likely ending associations with major professional education organizations that provide legal assistance, resources and training for school leadership and personnel.

In a news release, Walters alleged without providing evidence the organizations push a woke agenda, work in tandem with national extremist groups and force failed policies into schools.

Moving forward, he says his department is stepping in to provide these services to schools as a “one-stop-shop.”

One of the groups, the Cooperative Council of Oklahoma School Administration, responded in a statement, saying it wants to continue partnering with the department.

“As lifelong educators, we continue to encourage Superintendent Walters and leaders at all levels to move beyond politics and prioritize public education.”

OU Health Offers New Fertility Preservation Procedure

OU Health is offering a new fertility preservation option to patients whose ability to conceive might be impacted by treatments like chemotherapy.

It’s the first health system in the state to provide the procedure.

When women are diagnosed with aggressive cancers, they sometimes can’t wait the time it takes to go through traditional fertility treatments.

That’s why OU Health is offering a new and quicker option. It requires an ovary to be removed, and its tissue is frozen until patients are ready to have it re-implanted

Heather Burks is a physician at OU Health, and she says she’s been looking forward to offering this procedure.

“It is helpful to their well-being, um, their survivorship along with their treatment journey,” Burks said.

The procedure has already given hope to a six-year-old girl from Tulsa who was born with sickle cell disease and required treatments making fertility unlikely.

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