June 21, 2010

Agriculture, energy sectors drive Oklahoma’s economy

The Express-Star

— The two driving forces behind Oklahoma’s economy are the agriculture and energy sectors. It is important that we at the legislature ensure that we are business friendly and available to listen and respond, so we maintain these key industries of our state.

Wheat harvest is underway all across the district with test weights and per bushel averages both coming in very well. After the disastrous wheat harvest of 2009, this is a welcome and needed change for farmers in our area and across the state. It is a wonderful thing to live in a state that provides so much of the countries food and fiber needs, and to be food secure.

Agriculture is not an easy lifestyle or way to earn a living, as I can attest from being married to a farmer. Hours are long, Mother Nature can be cruel, and you cannot set your own prices.

On the flip side, it is very gratifying to see the plants emerge from the soil after all of the hours of hard work, and to know you are feeding your family and country.

One of our farms in Pocasset caught fire last week, and fire departments from all across the area were there momentarily to aid in putting out the flames. Only 100 acres burned down and I would like to thank the fire departments of Amber-Pocasset, Friend, Tuttle, Bridgecreek and Chickasha who put out our fire, and do the same for all of our citizens in their time of need.

When you are following a combine down the road, and are unable to pass, slow down and remember these are the people who put food on your table. Thank you to all the agriculturalists of District 47!

We also need to remember that the energy sector is not our enemy. There’s a lot of outrage right now concerning the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, much of it justified because BP cut corners in safety procedures. However, did you know the Obama Administration gave the Deepwater Horizon rig a safety commendation? And that the Bush administration handed it six different safety violations years ago? The fact is, that rig had a lot of trouble from the start and its problems went on repeatedly. Now we’re 60-plus days into this spill with no end in sight.

We shouldn’t be drilling out so far. This country has capitulated to overzealous environmentalists. Bans on near-shore drilling, drilling in government-owned land in the U.S. west and in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge are why we had to go out so far.

We need to open up near-shore drilling around Florida, the Atlantic and Pacific to avoid risky future drills like this one, and the last thing we need to do is use this accident to further an unrelated cap and trade bill and subsequent tax on America’s citizens.

If this same spill had occurred in ANWR, workers would have turned off the rig, plugged the hole and cleaned up in short order. We need to re-prioritize business in the energy sector.

Eighty percent of America’s energy comes from fossil fuels, it is the way our entire economy is fueled, and until a truly viable alternative is available we need to safely utilize it.