Welcome to CU Public Policy Forum VIII
Alternative Energy in Oklahoma in the new legacy revolution
An Invitation to Help Shape Southwest
Oklahoma's Energy Future!
What is the issue?
Once again the CU Public Policy Forum visits the important topic of energy. Since the Forum's last session on Oklahoma's energy future, the horizontal drilling boom has transformed a host of communities across the state. Natural gas has also transformed the nation's and the world's energy landscape, opening up the possibility that the U.S. will no longer be as dependent on foreign sources of oil. But the natural gas boom has proved to have its own complexities, from possible links to earthquakes to its influences on ground water. Since our last forum wind power too has progressed, though perhaps not as rapidly. Yet, one thing has not changed. Supporters of legacy fuels and supporters of non-fossil energy sources such as wind still remain at loggerheads. This forum, then, will once again explore whether there are other ways to pursue the conversation about the state, the region, and the nation's energy future.
How am I involved in energy policy?
Even if you may not think you are involved, you are! If you use energy, its production, sale, and distribution concern you whether you know it or not. With policy-making in this area promising to be central to the future of Southwest Oklahoma and statewide, being informed can only help as you make decisions for yourself, your family, and your community about what sort of energy future you want to live in.
Do I have a role in the debate?
Unquestionably. Your participation in the forum is invited and encouraged. Questions and input from you will help the forum realize its full potential. And once the forum is over, we have made available the presentations by experts in various academic fields as well as by representatives of the industries that make up the energy sector. You will be able to make use of these presentations to formulate your own questions and approaches to the issue so that when the time comes for you to help make choices on energy policy, you will be in a position to do so. In short, never doubt that your curiosity is an important part of the mix.
Why Revisit the theme of Energy?
Simply put, the energy landscape in Oklahoma has drastically changed since the CU Public Policy forum last engaged with it, and the reason for this change can be summed up in two words: hydraulic fracturing. Residents of Oklahoma City may perhaps have seen this encapsulated in a recent ad campaign that lists hydraulic fracturing as a technology rivaling the internet for transformative capacity. As many in the state and the region know, the state of Oklahoma has been at the forefront of hydraulic fracturing since its infancy. In fact, the first two commercial applications of hydraulic fracturing occurred in Stephens County, Oklahoma and Archer County, Texas in 1949.
Research shows that natural gas production from hydrocarbon-rich shale formations is the leading trend in onshore natural gas production in the United States. Previously cost prohibitive, shale gas extraction via fracturing has unlocked vast reserves. Through high-pressure injections of water, sand, and chemicals deep underground to break up shale formations and release trapped natural gas, more than 1 million wells have been fractured over the past 60 years throughout the United States.
Of the hundreds of active gas drilling wells using hydraulic fracturing, many are found in Oklahoma. Moreover, current activities in the central and northwestern part of the state indicate that the incidence of this method of drilling will continue to rise, especially considering the economic benefits that it has produced in the region.
Yet concerns have been raised throughout the country and the state. These range from environmental pollution, habitat degradation, and groundwater contamination to diminishing air quality and the occurrences of earthquakes. Though equally important, these concerns can and must be addressed within the broader context of the state's economic future; the economic impact of the natural gas boom is hard to deny.
Further complicating the picture are the range of alternative energy resources that continue to shape the nation's energy possibilities. Within the state, for example, wind power has also proceeded apace, and national debates on energy have revealed that states as diverse as Iowa and Wyoming have an interest in wind power.
And although this session of the CU Public Policy Forum cannot address it, shale oil and tar sands oil have also become prominent in our national and regional energy conversation.
With all this afoot, it seemed best to convene the next session of the CU Public Policy Forum with en eye towards grappling with some of this complexity.
Participants in the forum will address three inter-related questions on the history of energy provision in Oklahoma, the role of legacy fuels such as natural gas, and the place of alternative energy in the Oklahoma's energy landscape. The program is therefore divided into three basic segments to capture the historical-cultural dimension, perceptions of the private sector, and cross-disciplinary/sectoral insights. In the first part of the program humanities scholars from History and Political Science will examine the critical connections across society, policy, and energy provision in light of the recent trends in hydraulic fracturing in Oklahoma. In doing so, they will link the particular historical profile of energy solutions characteristic of Oklahoma as a whole and Oklahoma in particular to specific energy sectors, showing how energy provision strategies have operated and how they might operate in the future. Finally, experts from the private energy sector in Oklahoma (natural gas and wind) will discuss the practicalities of moving from the energy present in Oklahoma to its energy future. In providing answers to the following questions, the forum aims to help advance current debate on Oklahoma energy future:
- Within the context of Oklahoma's cultural, historical, and economic characteristics, how feasible is it to entertain replacing oil, gas, and coal in the near future and how can debates over this issue be conducted in a manner that leads towards a unified energy strategy for the state?
- Can regions like Oklahoma, long a beneficiary of its close relationship with the energy sector, profitably promote the use of so-called green energy in the midst of a legacy energy boom and, if so, why should they?
- Does the prospect of green energy spell the ultimate end of the energy industry as people in Oklahoma have known it and thus mean changing the culture of the state or can the two sectors actually complement one another?
Who is Involved?
|Mark Meo||Oklahoma Renewable Energy Council||Professor of Sustainability Science and Policy||Environemntal Policy Analysis|
|Susan Postawko||University of Oklahoma||Associate Professor||Atmosphere Interactions and Cimate|
|Hopper Smith||Devon Energy Corporation||Director of Public Affairs||Natural Gas Within the Context of Oklahoma's Energy Mix|
|Tony Wohlers||Cameron University||Associate Professor of Political Science||Alternative Energy Policies in Oklahoma|
registration AND QUESTIONS
For forum registration, please click here and follow the steps.
For questions, please contact:
Dr. Tony Wohlers, Forum Organizer
Tel: (580) 581-2496
Fax: (580) 581-2941
Dr. Douglas Catterall, Speaker Coordinator
Tel: (580) 581-2949
Fax: (580) 581-2941