The Edmond Sun

Opinion

October 1, 2012

Oklahoma taking lead in energy independence

OKLAHOMA CITY — This Thursday, energy industry experts, executives and employees will join public officials at the Governor’s Energy Conference in Oklahoma City. They will represent virtually every sector of the energy industry, including oil and natural gas, wind and solar power, biofuels and nuclear energy.

While these men and women come from diverse backgrounds and fields — academic, corporate and political — they all have two things in common: They are on the cutting edge of one of the most important job-creating industries in the world; and they are leading the charge toward American energy independence.

For decades, energy independence was thought to be out of reach. New drilling techniques like hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, the discovery of enormous reserves of natural gas in the U.S. and the development of alternative energies have changed that.

Now, energy independence is not just possible, it is critical. The U.S. cannot and should not remain addicted to foreign oil, much of it supplied by hostile regimes. Fully developing our energy resources is important for national security reasons, and equally important for our economy.

Oklahoma is and will continue to play an important role in that push for energy independence.

To ensure that Oklahoma continues to fully develop its resources, I introduced Oklahoma’s first comprehensive energy plan last year last year, titled “Oklahoma First.”

In it, Secretary of Energy Michael Ming and I outline a variety of initiatives designed to support every corner of Oklahoma’s energy sector. We also laid the groundwork for a partnership with the state of Colorado, which agreed to join us in leveraging our purchasing power in an attempt to acquire more affordable compressed natural gas vehicles for our state automobile fleets.

Our two state fleets have well more than 10,000 cars and trucks between them. Introducing CNG vehicles to these fleets will save taxpayer dollars on fuel costs and encourage the creation of CNG infrastructure and fueling stations, which in turn will make it easier for families and businesses to also use CNG.

I’m proud to report that our two-state agreement caught the eye of a bipartisan group of governors and state purchasing directors across the country, and we now have 22 states supporting the initiative. Those 22 states introduced a Request for Proposal earlier this year, asking car manufacturers and dealers to come forward with a proposal for affordable CNG cars and trucks for purchase.

This Thursday, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper will join me at the Governor’s Energy Conference to announce the results of that RFP bidding process.

We expect our bipartisan effort to result in lower prices and taxpayer savings on the CNG models that are widely offered today by auto manufacturers, such as three-quarter ton pickups.

We also believe our initiative will lay the groundwork for auto companies to bring new products to market, like CNG-powered sedans and half-ton pickups that are most widely used by businesses and consumers.

The end result of this effort will be to develop state auto fleets in just under half the country that run on cheaper, cleaner fuel. Not only will that save taxpayer dollars, it will support the production of American-made energy, which in turn will lead to American jobs.

In the quest for energy independence, CNG vehicles represent one important piece of the puzzle. Energy efficiency, use of renewables, traditional fossil fuels and advanced extraction techniques will also play important roles.

Moving forward, I will continue to ensure that Oklahoma remains on the cutting edge of each of these, and that our state continues to take the lead in moving toward energy independence.

GOV. MARY FALLIN, R-Edmond, may be reached via her website at www.ok.gov/governor/.

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Poll

Do you agree with a state budget proposal that takes some funds away from road and bridge projects to ramp up education funding by $29.85 million per year until schools are receiving $600 million more a year than they are now? In years in which 1 percent revenue growth does not occur in the general fund, the transfer would not take place.

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