Does Oklahoma have a state energy policy?
With attention being focused on the national energy policy
legislation of President George W. Bush it may be time for
Oklahoma's governor and Legislature to begin looking at a state plan
of its own.
Immediately prior to the August recess the Republican-controlled
U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation that is a
striking affirmation of the president's energy policy. It passed the
Securing America's Energy Future (SAEF) Act of 2001 by a vote of 240
No doubt the legislation will face tougher times in the Senate,
but some encouraging signs have recently come from that Democratic-
controlled body. It certainly would be a major step toward a
national energy policy.
And what role do states have in the development of that policy?
An important one according to Gov. Frank Keating. At a recent
National Governor's Association meeting he stressed the need for
"Energy issues must be addressed nationally, but state and local
authority over energy and environmental matters needs to be
maintained. It would be a mistake to develop a national policy
without the full cooperation and partnership with the states and
their governors," he said.
A National Governor's Association Natural Resources committee of
which the governor is vice chairman, made a series of
recommendations dealing mostly with domestic production and refining
capacity. Keating called it a "balanced approach to conservation,
consumption, environmental concerns and protection of the domestic
As far as a national energy policy for fossil fuel is concerned
environmentalists have been big stumbling blocks. Another problem in
the past has been lack of agreement, not only in the petroleum
industry but among other energy producing sources. That same lack of
agreement has occurred between governors from major consuming states
and those of producer states.
The result in this case was a matter of agreeing on concepts. In
fact the policies the committee outlined lacked specificity.
It is much easier to reach agreement on broad principles and
indefinite statements. The problem comes with the details of
implementing them. There was little said about how these general
statements can be brought to fruition, but the passage of H.R. 4,
the SAEF Act by the U.S. House is a definite step in that direction.
Since, as Keating said, the states need to be a factor in any
national energy policy, it is equally important they should have
similar policies within their own boundaries. These would be aimed
at implementing and expanding the national energy policy, and be
directed toward similar goals applicable to their particular needs
Goals for the future
Rep. Larry Rice, D-Pryor, believes an energy policy needs to be
developed for Oklahoma. As chairman of the House Energy and Utility
Regulation, he has joined with Sen. Kevin Easley to co-sponsor a
joint interim study to develop a policy for state energy resources.
Easley serves as chair of the Senate Energy and Regulatory affairs
Rice said he expects the joint committee will begin work in
October and continue through November and perhaps into December.
"I want some type of energy policy that will establish goals of
where Oklahoma should be in 20 or 25 years."
Rice added the joint committee will be looking at all energy
sources, including oil and gas, electricity, coal, and renewables. …