WASHINGTON, D.C. -U.S. Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.) today praised T. Boone Pickens for bringing forward a common-sense energy plan for America's energy future. Senator Inhofe met with T. Boone Pickens last week and discussed Pickens' call for increasing natural gas and wind energy production. Through his leadership position on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Senator Inhofe has a long record in supporting not only increasing natural gas and wind energy production, but a strong record of supporting a domestic, diverse, and affordable energy supply.
"The Pickens Plan is a bold and achievable approach to meeting our nation's energy challenges," Senator Inhofe said. "Like Pickens, I believe tomorrow's energy mix must include the development and expansion of natural gas and wind energy production. Importantly, however, I believe we must utilize all domestic energy resources including not only natural gas and renewable energy, but also oil, coal, and nuclear energy. Developing and expanding domestic energy resources will translate into energy security and will ensure stable sources of supply and well-paying jobs for Oklahomans and Americans.
"Pickens is right when he says natural gas must play an increasing part of our nation's energy future. That is why I plan to introduce legislation to further reduce regulatory barriers to compressed natural gas (CNG) use and give states the flexibility to develop their own natural gas conversion programs. The promise of natural gas as a mainstream transportation fuel is achievable today, not 15 or 20 years from now. Most importantly, many state and local governments, businesses, and consumers have been able to cut their fuel bills by more than half when utilizing natural gas as a transportation fuel. From CNG powered cars, to semi-trucks running on liquefied natural gas (LNG), no other commercially viable fuel burns cleaner. The federal transportation bill in 2005, which I authored, included a 50-cent-per-gallon excise tax credit for the sale of CNG or LNG for use as a motor vehicle fuel.
"Further as a staunch advocate of natural gas production, I am proud to have successfully worked through my leadership role on the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to have authored several key provisions of our national energy policy to increase access to our nation's natural gas supply, to encourage successful exploration, and to reduce regulatory burdens, such as protecting the industry use of hydraulic fracturing which has become a critical practice in producing from both conventional and unconventional wells.
"I also agree with Pickens that wind energy must play an increasing role in our nation's energy future. With 689 megawatts (MW) of production, Oklahoma ranks as one of the top states in wind energy production. To help spur wind development in Oklahoma, I worked to include a provision in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPACT) to increase private sector investment in high voltage lines by decreasing the depreciation period for these lines to 15 years. To that end, OG&E recently announced the construction of a high power line from Oklahoma City to Woodward with plans to eventually connect with Guymon. These lines could more than quadruple OG&E's current wind production of 170 MW to 770 MW."
OGE's Vice President Paul Renfrow praised Senator Inhofe for his "tremendous foresight and leadership," saying,
"These wind projects not only expand OGE's wind capacity but, through the new transmission lines, expand the wind capacity of both our State and the entire region. We are very appreciative of the tremendous foresight and leadership Jim Inhofe has shown in working to help expand the opportunities for wind generation as part of a diversified energy portfolio."
Further, Senator Inhofe has consistently supported the extension of the renewable electricity Production Tax Credit.
"I've also consistently supported the extension of the renewable electricity Production Tax Credit. This tax credit provides for a 1.9 cent per kilowatt-hour tax credit for the first ten years a turbine goes into service. It assists wind energy developers overcome today's high up-front costs as the industry continues to mature. As recently as April 10, 2008, I not only voted to extend the production tax credit, but I voted against attempts to reduce the incentive for wind energy. I've also blocked Congressional efforts to derail major wind projects such as Cape Wind off the coast of Massachusetts. Further, I have joined with my Republican colleagues in cosponsoring legislation, the Alternative Minimum Tax and Extenders Tax Relief Act of 2008, (S. 3098) which extends the renewable production tax credit for another year.
"Today as Oklahomans are looking for relief from soaring energy costs, they can rest assured that I will continue to stand up for Oklahoma and support policies that will make certain we have a stable, diverse and affordable energy supply."