Oklahoma Oil & Gas Industry Hopes To Get Bump From Trump Policy
TULSA, Oklahoma - The oil and gas industry is a major driver of Oklahoma's economy. Executive orders have cleared the way for the completion of two major pipelines in other states. What impact has President Trump had on the industry in Oklahoma?
From his words as a nominee to his actions as President, Donald Trump has been clear on his intentions for the oil and gas industry.
"I think you had a sense of relief that you had a federal government that's not going to fight you anymore," said Chad Warmington with the Oklahoma Oil and Gas Association.
As a top lobbyist, Warmington's job is to make sure his clients like Devon and Chesapeake Energy have a seat at the table when it comes to public policy. They get that with President Trump, but the Trump bump may stop there.
"We can't exclude industry from the process," said Warmington. "I think it's conveniently timed well for President Trump, but I don't think it's completely based on that."
His timing couldn't be much better.
"We've nearly doubled our employee head count, so not a whole lot of time to think about all the politics that went into it," said Clif Price, VP of Rockwater Energy Solutions. "Mainly our side is just trying to keep up with the growth."
Price credits that growth to a simple supply and demand.
"Margins are still real slim, but at the end of the day it's the markets that set the pricing," Price said.
Right now the markets are on the rebound from a low of $20 a barrel. A president's impact on that pricing has been debated for years. Most recently under President Obama the price per barrel hovered around $90 for four straight years. So Trump's real impact on Oklahoma could just be the power of the pulpit, even in the eyes of environmentalists.
"Even though his actions will not change the environment overnight we feel they're sending the wrong message," said Johnson Bridgwater with the OK Sierra Club.
"I would point to the fact that even though right now we are considered oil and gas dependent, oil and gas is the driver of our economy. Our state is bankrupt, our teachers aren't being paid, our elderly can't get care so we would like to point to the fact that if this is how they are under an oil and gas dependent economy, we see that things can only get better."
Bridgwater also takes the argument back to one the president's favorite topics, jobs. The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission shows a drop in the number jobs from March to April and the industry is still down 2,100 jobs from last year. Renewable energy is reportedly creating jobs at a rate 12 times faster than that of the rest of the U.S. economy. However, for Price and Oklahoma, it's evident where the jobs are now.
"If we had 200 people walk in the door right now we'd probably hire them," said Price. "It's good to have checks and balances both ways. We can't have one side run the gamut or we know how the world would be. But at the end of the day there has to be some common sense people got to work there's got to be jobs out there in order to feed our families."
In regards to numbers based evidence President Trump has had in Oklahoma, Bridgwater says the Sierra Club's membership has gone up 18 percent since mid-November.