The Edmond Sun


June 30, 2014

Could EPA ruling help Oklahoma’s economy?

EDMOND — Next to the IRS, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency might be the federal agency Oklahomans most love to hate. Ironically, it is also the federal agency that might make the most significant positive impact on the state economy in the coming years.

Last week the U.S. Supreme Court confirmed that the EPA has the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from new or modified utility plants and factories. These greenhouse gas emissions are blamed by a vast majority of climate scientists for the growth in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (to the highest levels in human history) and the subsequent warming of the earth’s climate in the past century.

Not surprisingly, the idea that the EPA will be able to more aggressively regulate the use and production of energy, has many Oklahomans concerned. However, there are two important reasons why such concerns are overblown. First, despite the protestations of some, history shows that the EPA is not a political cog pursuing a progressive agenda. In fact, the EPA was formed in 1970 under Republican former-President Richard Nixon. It was strengthened in 1990 under Republican former-President George H.W. Bush. And it first began regulating greenhouse gas emissions in 2007 under Republican former-President George W. Bush.

Second, and perhaps most important, is that more aggressive regulation of greenhouse gas emissions will actually benefit many in Oklahoma’s energy industry. It is true that any effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, whether through emissions limits or a carbon tax, will raise energy costs, and decrease employment. It also will decrease demand for energy, but not necessarily for all energy sources. In fact, energy economists generally expect that any new environmental regulation of greenhouse gas emissions will increase the demand for natural gas.

While natural gas also generates greenhouse gases when burned, and would therefore be subject to the enhanced regulations, natural gas is far cleaner than the coal we typically use to generate electricity. In fact, natural gas generates fewer than half the carbon dioxide that burning coal generates. So, the easiest way for firms to meet the new emissions requirements will be to use more natural gas. As we’ve seen here in Oklahoma in recent years, an increase in demand for natural gas boosts Oklahoma’s economy by enabling firms to create new jobs and invest more in the state. Not only is that a positive economic benefit, but relying more upon cleaner natural gas is a positive environmental benefit as well.

It’s no secret that Oklahoma’s economy depends heavily on a healthy natural gas industry and it is that natural gas industry that likely will be the greatest beneficiary of the new regulations on greenhouse gas emissions that the EPA is implementing. Not only will we share in the benefits of a cleaner environment, we also will do so without facing the economic costs likely to be borne by others.

MICKEY HEPNER is the dean of the College of Business Administration at the University of Central Oklahoma. Hepner serves on the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors for The Oklahoma Academy.

Text Only
  • Russell leads in Sun poll

    Polling results of an unscientific poll at show that Steve Russell, GOP candidate for the 5th District congressional seat, is in the lead with 57 percent of the vote ahead of the Aug. 26 runoff election. Thirty readers participated in the online poll.

    July 28, 2014

  • Healthier and Wealthier? Not in Oklahoma

    Increased copays, decreased coverage, diminished health care access, reduced provider budgets and increased frustration are all the outcomes of the Legislature’s 2014 health care funding decisions. Unlike some years in the past when a languishing state economy forced legislators into making cuts, the undesirable outcomes this year could easily have been avoided.

    July 26, 2014

  • Medicaid reform a necessity

    Historically, education spending by the state of Oklahoma has been the largest budget item. This is no longer the case. In recent years, the state of Oklahoma spends more on Medicaid (operated by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority) than common education and higher education combined, according to the state’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.

    July 25, 2014

  • Remembering lessons from 1974

    This week marks the 40th anniversary of an important milestone in America’s constitutional history. On July 24, 1974, the Supreme Court voted 8-0 to order the Nixon White House to turn over audiotapes that would prove the president and his close aides were guilty of criminal violations. This ruling established with crystal clarity that the executive branch could not hide behind the shield of executive privilege to protect itself from the consequences of illegal behavior. It was a triumph for the continued vitality of our constitutional form of government.

    July 25, 2014

  • RedBlueAmerica: Is parenting being criminalized in America?

    Debra Harrell was arrested recently after the McDonald’s employee let her daughter spend the day playing in a nearby park while she worked her shift. The South Carolina woman says her daughter had a cell phone in case of danger, and critics say that children once were given the independence to spend a few unsupervised hours in a park.
    Is it a crime to parent “free-range” kids? Does Harrell deserve her problems? Joel Mathis and Ben Boychuk, the RedBlueAmerica columnists, debate the issue.

    July 24, 2014

  • Technology that will stimulate journalism’s future is now here

    To say technology has changed the newspaper media industry is understating the obvious. While much discussion focuses on how we read the news, technology is changing the way we report the news. The image of a reporter showing up to a scene with a pen and a pad is iconic but lost to the vestiges of time.
    I am asked frequently about the future of newspapers and, in particular, what does a successful future look like. For journalists, to be successful is to command multiple technologies and share news with readers in new and exciting ways.

    July 23, 2014

  • New Orleans features its own “Running of the Bulls”

    On July12, the streets of the Warehouse District of New Orleans were filled with thousands of young men who were seeking to avoid being hit with plastic bats wielded by women on roller skates as part of the annual “Running of the Bulls” that takes place in New Orleans.
    The event is based on the “Running of the Bulls” that occurs in Pamplona, Spain, that is  part of an annual occurrence in which a group of bulls rampage through the streets of Pamplona while men run from them to avoid being gored by their sharp horns. That event was introduced to the English-speaking world by Ernest Hemingway, who included scenes from it in his critically acclaimed 1926 novel “The Sun also Rises.”

    July 22, 2014

  • OTHER VIEW: Newsday: Lapses on deadly diseases demand explanation

    When we heard that the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had created a potentially lethal safety risk by improperly sending deadly pathogens — like anthrax — to other laboratories around the country, our first reaction was disbelief.

    July 22, 2014

  • Holding government accountable for open meeting violations

    A few weeks ago I wrote about the recent success of three important government transparency proposals which will go into law this year.

    July 21, 2014

  • GUEST OPINION — Oklahoma GOP voters want educational choices

    A Braun Research survey released in January showed that Oklahoma voters — Republicans, Democrats, and Independents alike — favor parental choice in education.

    July 21, 2014


If the Republican runoff for the 5th District congressional seat were today, which candidate would you vote for?

Patrice Douglas
Steve Russell
     View Results