Oklahoma is blessed with an abundance of natural resources, the state’s energy and environment secretary said Wednesday, so it is important to use them to ensure residents have a reliable electrical system.
Teague, who has been on the job for about seven months, said Oklahoma is among the top states in the U.S. in oil, natural gas and wind production. Those resources must be used together to benefit state residents, he said.
Teague spoke Wednesday to the Oklahoma Renewable Energy Council, a nonprofit organization devoted to developing renewable resources and improving the environment.
Chairman Laurence Beliel of the Ponca City Development Authority welcomed Teague to the council’s monthly meeting.
“I think he has a soft spot for renewable energy, particularly hydro,” Beliel said.
Teague served as the Tulsa district commander for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers before joining Gov. Mary Fallin’s cabinet last year. The corps manages eight hydroelectric plants in Oklahoma.
Teague said water is the most pressing environmental issue facing the state as it struggles through a prolonged drought.
He encouraged energy producers to work together to conserve water and protect their “social license to operate” in Oklahoma.
Teague said collaboration can solve almost any problem, citing his office’s work with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on regulations meant to curb greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.
He said state and industry leaders need to focus on addressing climate change by reducing emissions rather than trying to figure out the cause.
Teague said that does not have to harm business interests.
“There are some smart decisions to be made out there,” he said, noting that replacing gasoline with compressed natural gas is a great solution for Oklahoma.