OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Corporation Commissioner Denise Bode said Friday she is resigning effective May 31 to lead a new natural gas foundation in Washington, D.C.
Bode, a Republican, said she is in the process of forming the American Clean Skies Foundation, which will be part of the national energy debate.
``Today, there is a national debate on climate change and energy,'' she said. ``We see policymakers promoting alternative fuels such as wind, solar, biofuels and nuclear. These are all legitimate alternatives _ although some much less than others _ yet none can offer energy in great abundance at a reasonable price any time soon.
``On the other hand, burning natural gas instead of the principal alternatives reduces greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 50 percent. We intend to make natural gas not only part of the debate, but the solution.''
She said she has talked to officials in the natural gas industry, including Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake Energy Corp., but the foundation ``is not going to be a Chesapeake entity.''
Bode said she was determined to ``aggressively advocate for Oklahoma's number one industry at the national level,'' noting that natural gas taxes added $812 million to the state government budget in 2006.
``Frankly, I cannot think of a more important way to have a greater impact on the future of Oklahoma than to advocate, promote and protect our state's most important industry and resource _ natural gas,'' she said.
Democratic Gov. Brad Henry will name a replacement for Bode, who was appointed to the commission in 1997 by former GOP Gov. Frank Keating.
During her time on the panel, which sets rates for utility companies, Bode ran unsuccessfully for attorney general and the U.S. House.
Her current term expires in 2010, meaning her successor will have to face election for two years of her unexpired term in 2008, the next general election.
``I appreciate Commissioner Bode's many years of public service and her great work for the state of Oklahoma,'' Henry said. ``I look forward to working with her in her new role and wish her the best.''
Bode was elected to an abbreviated term in 1998 and Oklahoma voters subsequently elected her to full six-year terms in 2000 and 2004.
Before her appointment by Keating, she was president of the Independent Petroleum Association of American in Washington, where her husband, John, is an attorney. She previously was legal counsel for Sen. David Boren, focusing on energy and taxes.
As a member of the Corporation Commission, Bode chaired hearings that led to alternative regulation of the telecommunications industry.
Bode's fellow commissioners praised her service. Chairman Jeff Cloud said Bode served during a time of change and left her mark on important issues coming before the panel.
Veteran Commissioner Bob Anthony said Bode had a strong work ethic and applied her energy expertise to deciding cases and setting policy.