State Energy Policy among Study Issues
Marie Price The Journal Record, THE JOURNAL RECORD
Of the record 168 House interim studies and 10 Senate studies approved thus far, two dozen or so will impact business and industry, some directly, others -- such as a comprehensive tax study -- only to the extent that their subject areas affect business as part of Oklahoma in general.
The first approved Senate study and one of the first requested House studies addresses the complex issue of developing a state energy policy.
The two studies, requested by Sen. Kevin Easley, D-Broken Arrow, and Rep. Larry Rice, D-Pryor, will be conducted as a joint review, and have been assigned to the respective legislative energy panels.
"It was a request from the industry," Rice said Wednesday. "We'll look at the total state from an energy perspective."
He said he intends to include all aspects of energy, from electricity to coal to wind.
It is important, Rice said, for Oklahoma to take a comprehensive look at its energy needs and resources, to determine what shape the state will be in energy-wise 20 or 25 years down the road.
Rice was asked what impact a state can have, when so much that constitutes energy policy is established in Washington, D.C.
"As a state, we do have some control over our destiny," he said.
Rice said this is especially true with deregulation on the horizon.
From location of power plants to taxation and tax credits for renewable energy sources, he said, an individual state can affect energy policy within its borders.
"We think it's time we all sit down at the same table," Rice said. "We need a diverse and forward-thinking energy policy."
Reps. Jack Bonny, D-Burns Flat, and James E. Covey, D-Custer City, have gained approval of a related study of options for incentives for green energy, which has also been assigned to the House Energy and Utility Regulation chaired by Rice.
This study may dovetail with Gov. Frank Keating's recently announced "Oklahoma Bioenergy Initiative." The governor has asked environment Secretary Brian Griffin to look into environmentally friendly energy alternatives, stressing methods that reduce greenhouse bases while promoting use of Oklahoma organic resources.
The Rice committee will also study the concept of fuel-cell technology and the practicality of encouraging its use in Oklahoma, a study requested by Rep. Chris Benge, R-Tulsa.
Other business/industry-related studies to be conducted before lawmakers convene the 2002 session include:
* Senate Study Proposal 01-09 -- Coffee -- An interim study of the state limiting liability for vendors.
* House Study Proposal 01-17 -- Pope (Clay) -- A study to review the Oklahoma tax structure and possible alternatives, including state, county and local taxes and the tax systems of other states.
* House Study Proposal 01-26 -- Taylor -- A joint study (also requested by Muegge of Senate) on development of a comprehensive international development plan and strategy, to include how the state can achieve global competitiveness, coordinate the state's international activities and respond to international challenges and opportunities. …