A new release from the Bureau of Economic Analysis lists Oklahoma in the top 5 of the fastest growing statewide economies in the nation. Due in part to its large energy industry, Oklahoma was able to increase its GDP by 4.17 percent between 2012 and 2013. Only North Dakota, West Virginia and Wyoming beat Oklahoma in these rankings.
After this announcement, it’s even more clear that the new EPA regulations — including regional haze rules, need to be stopped. Mining was Oklahoma’s fastest growing industry in 2013. According to the release, mining increased 19.22 percent between 2012 and 2013. By definition, mining includes both oil and natural gas exploration and production. But shuttering of some existing utility plants in Oklahoma, switching fuels from an abundant and cheap fuel like coal will have a catastrophic effect on every Oklahoman.
While the increase in oil and gas exploration is a great benefit to the overall economy, if everyday Oklahomans can’t afford to pay their skyrocketing utility bill, the whole economy suffers and people’s lives could be put at risk. Those on low incomes and tight budgets will be forced to make life and death decisions simply by turning off their air conditioners to save money on a hot August day.
Many times GDP is related to quality of life and Oklahomans saw an increase in that department too. Obviously Oklahoma is doing something right. With a healthy oil and gas industry coupled with a growing agricultural industry, it is not surprising to see a great growth rate. Nationwide the GDP only increased by 1.9 percent.
In order to stay in the top 5, Oklahoma needs to be able to continue its successful work in the energy industry. We must stop the new EPA regulations in order to boost Oklahoma ahead — all the way to first place. With Oklahoma energy driving our economy, those economic benefits trickle down into other industries, which makes it crucial that all sectors of the Oklahoma economy continue to have low-cost, clean electricity available to fuel this growth in to the next decade.