This week, I had the privilege to attend and speak at the Governor’s Energy Conference. Forgive the pun, but it was electrifying!
Gov. Mary Fallin’s leadership is something we can all be proud of and be thankful for, as she is moving us forward toward our greater potential.
I had the honor of sharing about Oklahoma’s native blessings. Specifically, not only how natural gas and wind are two commodities that can help power Oklahoma’s future, but how these two energy sources working together can be a model for our country in helping lower utility bills and cleaning up our air.
Oklahoma Corporation Commission Chairwoman Patrice Douglas spoke very passionately about the role the OCC plays in helping protect Oklahoma consumers while encouraging innovation from Oklahoma’s energy producers. Douglas articulated that the commission can best service Oklahoma by regulating in a way that is clear, consistent and concise while also helping the industry remain competitive.
One of the highlights was Fallin welcoming Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper to the conference. These two fantastic governors have crossed political divisions and together have rallied 22 states to work toward adding compressed natural gas, or CNG, vehicles to their fleets. Their collaboration has created a pathway where states can purchase certain CNG vehicles at significantly lower costs. What’s amazing about this is that oftentimes access to CNG vehicles can seem cost-prohibitive. In other words, you don’t realize the cost savings from lower fuel until two or three years later. But their work together has encouraged manufacturers to reduce the purchase price of these vehicles, allowing states like Oklahoma and Colorado to purchase clean CNG vehicles at a lower cost. So, we get cheaper vehicles with cheaper fuel. That, my friends, is what we taxpayers love to see: savings. And with an Oklahoma fuel source powering the cars.
The visionary Continental Resources Chairman and CEO Harold Hamm shared passionately about the future of oil, and articulately presented the case for North American energy independence. He stated that energy independence is vital to America’s future, and impressively described the benefits it has on us psychologically. Free from the grip of certain foreign markets, we are not only unrestrained economically, but we can regain our independence in so many related ways as well. Our concern about trying to engage in certain volatile parts of the world could be significantly reduced by achieving true energy independence, and these America producers are making this possible.
The conference included great input from NextEra Wind from Google, whose carbon-free energy commitment is driving innovation and from experts with our state’s own Chesapeake Energy and Devon Energy. Chesapeake Senior Vice President of Corporate Development and Government Relations Tom Price and Devon Executive Vice President of Public Affairs Bill Whitsitt spoke in a very fair and candid exchange with Mark Brownstein of the Environmental Defense Fund about how producers and environmentalists can collaborate and listen to each other, rather than talking past each other.
Hats off to Secretary of Energy Mike Ming and Oklahoma City University President Robert Henry and Meinders School of Business Dean Steve Agee, who co-hosted this worthwhile annual event. And a special thanks to Fallin for her work to move Oklahoma to the forefront of America’s energy states
Jim Roth, a former Oklahoma corporation commissioner, is an attorney with Phillips Murrah P.C. in Oklahoma City, where his practice focuses on clean, green energy for Oklahoma.