EDMOND — EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part of a continuing series of stories about candidates running to represent the state’s 5th Congressional District.
Five Republicans and one Democrat candidate for the Congressional 5th District were asked Thursday to share their platform regarding the nation’s energy policy.
The Edmond Area Chamber of Commerce sponsored a candidates forum Thursday for the Congressional 5th District. The forum was at Oklahoma Christian University.
Oklahoma has an abundant supply of natural gas and the state needs fossil fuels, said Tom Guild, D-Edmond. However, he said the nation needs to further develop clean alternative energy resources such as solar power and wind energy.
“I couldn’t disagree more with what the state Legislature did, charging people a premium who produce their energy that way this last session,” Guild said.
The nation’s clean air and drinking water needs to be protected, Guild said. Government needs to encourage energy businesses to develop environmentally clean energy sources to make a profit, he said.
Oil and gas is the No. 1 sector of the state’s economy, said state Rep. Shane Jett, R-Tecumseh. Energy helped Oklahoma through the national recession.
“I support a blended portfolio of energy,” Jett said of coal, natural gas, oil, wind, solar power and biofuels.
Developing the state’s energy resources is not only important to Oklahoma, but also is essential for national security, Jett said.
“Having access to energy, having access to petroleum and our natural resources also allows us to be competitive worldwide,” Jett said. “Our natural gas reserve is something that allows us to compete with Russia.”
Low-cost energy allows the U.S. to be independent from other nations. Innovation is vital for the nation’s future, Jett said.
“Energy independence means economic independence,” said state Sen. Clark Jolley, R-Edmond. “That means adopting an all of the above approach.”
Those industries producing energy to make it affordable continue to face hostility from President Barack Obama’s administration and the Environmental Protection Agency, Jolley said.
EPA regulations increase the cost of consumer’s utility rates, Jolley said. EPA regulations cause inflated food costs that no one can afford, he added.
“It’s a unanimous across-the-board, no questions asked, no consent from Congress over-reach of a federal bureaucracy in establishing a new limit for carbon emissions,” Jolley said.
Obama recently ordered the EPA to begin cutting carbon emissions by 30 percent to help offset greenhouse gases from the power sector that contributes to climate change.
“That’s the kind of attitude that is killing energy independence that we could have in this country,” Jolley said.
The country also needs greater access for industry to explore federal lands for energy resources, he said.
“Finally, we have to approve (the) Keystone (XL) pipeline now,” Jolley said.
The U.S. needs to enable the shipment of liquid natural gas to its European allies, said former state Sen. Steve Russell, R-Oklahoma City.
“We also need to open federal lands that allow us to do exploration and use a percentage of the profits …to reduce our deficit,” Russell said.
Energy exploration can revitalize the U.S. economy much like steam revolutionized Britain’s economy during the early 19th century, Russell said.
“The solutions are not difficult,” he said. “But the will to get them done by the current administration is.”
Drilling along the Alaskan coast on federal lands would bolster energy independence in the U.S. and stop the need for oil imports from Saudi Arabia, said Harvey Sparks, R-Oklahoma City.
“We also need to deal with the over-regulation in the energy industry,” Sparks said.
Federal regulations are choking the energy industry, he said. There is no reason why the Keystone pipeline cannot begin delivering American crude oil to be processed on the Gulf Cost and create American jobs, Sparks said.
“What a blessing it would be to our energy industry,” he said. “There is no reason why should not have that approved and begin to move forward.”
Corporation Commissioner Patrice Douglas also approves of the Keystone pipeline. Edmond’s former mayor said she is excited that America has an opportunity to become energy independent and secure.
“It’s the first time that we’ve had that opportunity. Technology is allowing it to happen,” said Douglas, R-Edmond.
She envisions the pipeline as a way to free American energy and grow the economy.
As a regulator of the oil and gas industry, Douglas values Oklahoma’s need to keep regulation out of the hands of EPA bureaucrats who know little about energy production, she said.
“This morning I will vote 50 to 60 times on oil and gas cases to allow us and our jobs to continue in this state,” Douglas said. “And if we continue to have to rely on the EPA to do that, our industry will shut down.”
Oklahomans know best how to regulate oil and gas production. So regulations should be kept local, Douglas said.
All candidates were invited to the forum, but a few either had previous commitments or chose not to attend.
Not attending on the Democrat ticket were state Sen. Al McAffrey of Oklahoma City; and Leona Leonard, chairwoman of the Seminole County Democratic Party.
State Rep. Mike Turner, R-Edmond, had a prior commitment and could not attend, he told The Sun.
The three Independent candidates running for the 5th District include Tom Boggs who currently lives in Thailand, Buddy Ray of Edmond, and Robert Murphy of Norman. These candidates do not have a primary election and move forward to the Nov. 4 general election ballot.
Voters will nominate their party’s candidates June 24 for the statewide primary election. A runoff primary election is set for Aug. 26. The general election is scheduled for Nov. 4.