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Mr. President, welcome to the town that fossil fuel built

Derricks near the state Capitol reflect Oklahoma City’s rich energy heritage. Oklahoman archive photo
Derricks near the state Capitol reflect Oklahoma City’s rich energy heritage. Oklahoman archive photo
MR. President, this is the town that fossil fuel built, from the wildcatter days to the discovery of the giant Oklahoma City field; from oil derricks sprouting in the shadow of the state Capitol to gas rigs reaching miles underground; through booms, busts, gushers and dry holes; from the pioneering era of fracking to the high-tech era of deep gas wells; from world-class energy research to the siting of the headquarters of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission. When it comes to fossil fuel, we get it and we bring it to the marketplace.

Oklahoma drills and the nation fills.

Forgive us, sir, if we don’t share your grudging acceptance of fossil fuel as some “temporary” alternative to the energy sources you prefer. It’s not that we dislike wind power. Lord knows we have plenty of wind. Suburban Oklahomans have embraced wind for their electricity, just as their homesteading ancestors embraced windmills on treeless plains. The head of a national wind energy trade association is a former member of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, which regulates the oil and gas industry.

She loves wind power. But she also gets the criticality of hydrocarbons. Do you?

Mr. President, it’s not that we don’t want a bridge to a future that doesn’t rely on imported oil. In fact, we think a key truss on that bridge is a fossil fuel called natural gas. We have lots of it, but your administration seems keen on restricting its exploration.

In the town that fossil fuel built, we don’t feel trapped in the past, as you put it the other day. We’re not flat earthers. We’re deep earthers. We don’t cling to our rotary rigs or nodding donkeys (pumpjacks). We recognize their necessity.

State Rep. Lee Denney, who represents the area you’ll visit in Cushing, notes that a future without oil and gas exists only in your head, not in reality.

So demagogue all you want about undertaxed oil barons. Just remember that you didn’t arrive here on a solar-powered aircraft. What flows in and out of the Pipeline Crossroads of the World is oil. Getting it to Cushing is expensive and risky.

Eighty-two years ago, on March 26, 1930, the rumbling at a drilling rig in southeast Oklahoma City turned to a roar. Terrified roughnecks fled when high- pressure natural gas sent pipes and rocks into the air. It took 11 days to tame the Wild Mary Sudik well. But tame it we did.

Eight decades later we’re still taming hydrocarbons around here, in the town that fossil fuel built.

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