“The governor's plan is an all-of-the-above plan,” Weintz said. “It uses all of Oklahoma's energy resources, including big resources in oil and increases in natural gas and wind. As we purse new export markets for natural gas and wind and improve our energy infrastructure, we'll also see environmental benefits.”
Former Environment Secretary J.D. Strong, now executive director of the Oklahoma Water Resources Board, said the energy and environment cabinet posts are among a handful where the secretary doesn't direct a state agency. Strong worked in the environment secretary's office under Republican Gov. Frank Keating and Democratic Gov. Brad Henry. He was secretary of the environment for the last two years of Henry's second term.
Strong said cabinet positions are an important liaison between agencies and the governor's office. Much of the state's energy regulation comes at the elected Oklahoma Corporation Commission, while the Department of Environmental Quality carries out much of the state and federal regulation of air, water and land.
“I'm not worried about it having any undue influence,” Strong said. “Agencies answer to the law, their boards and what the governor asks them to do.”
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You can't make energy policy in a vacuum and expect it to have no effect on the environment, and you can't make environmental policy in a vacuum and expect it to have no effect on energy and jobs.”