Keeping up with change

Will Oklahoma continue to be a leader when it comes to energy?  The answer to that question is key to our state’s future.  For nearly 100 years Oklahoma has set the standard when it comes to domestic energy production and regulation.  During the very first oil boom it was Oklahoma that developed  regulatory standards still used today by producing states to ensure that on-shore production is done in a manner that prevents waste of a precious resource while protecting the rights of all stakeholders.  Oklahoma worked to bring all the producing states together to collaborate cooperatively on issues pertaining to oil and gas production by creating the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission, still based in Oklahoma City and this year chaired by Governor Fallin.

The question, "What does Oklahoma do?" is still commonly asked by states grappling with questions regarding energy production.  2010 saw the Corporation Commission’s Oil and Gas Division, as well as individual Commissioners, again in leadership roles nationally and internationally, as policy makers, lawmakers and regulators  in the U.S., Europe, and Asia looked to Oklahoma for guidance.

As Commission chair, I am committed not just to maintaining, but to advancing Oklahoma’s leadership position, both for the sake of the state’s economy and to meet America’s energy needs.  In order to do that we must be sure our state laws, rules, and policies keep pace with the revolutionary changes occurring in the domestic energy industry, as well as ensure proper funding is available for oil and gas regulation in Oklahoma.

Technological advances have raised new questions and concerns even as they enabled on-shore domestic oil and gas production thought impossible only a few years ago. How we address those questions and concerns now and in the future will determine whether Oklahoma will still be considered a place where producers are willing to invest millions of dollars, where regulators, producers and mineral owners can collaborate on important issues  and where residents can be confident their health and safety are not jeopardized.

Since taking office, I’ve logged thousands of miles across the state meeting with Oklahomans from all walks of life on these and other issues. From town hall horizontal drilling meetings to civic and professional group meetings and speaking engagements, these efforts have produced successful results and reinforced my belief that effective policy is built one step at a time starting on the local level, and with openness, communication and common sense. It also requires we keep an open mind to the challenges change can bring.   As I’ve said before, we need to embrace change as an opportunity to innovate.  

So it is with the huge changes in the field of energy and Oklahoma’s place as an energy leader. The bottom line:  Innovation and creativity are essential not only for technological advances, but also to develop public policy that ensures the potential of such advances is realized for all stakeholders.