Oklahoma, one of the nation's oil and gas production leaders, is now among the states leading the development of renewable energy. Gov. Brad Henry has outlined Oklahoma's plans to tap its huge store of renewable resources by endorsing the 25x'25 Vision.
The governor's endorsement supports the National 25x'25 Alliance's call for America's farms, ranches and forestlands to meet 25 percent of the nation's energy needs with land-based renewable energy sources — biofuels, biomass, wind energy, solar power, geothermal energy and hydropower by 2025, while maintaining an ample, affordable and safe food, feed and fiber supply.
"Endorsing the 25x'25 Vision is a statement of our state's commitment to support the development of renewable energy sources," said Henry. "Not only can we meet, but exceed the goal of 25 percent by 2025, and Oklahoma can play a major role in achieving that goal, through our development of biofuels, wind energy and other renewable energy sources. It is an important step that we can take to achieving energy independence."
The 25x'25 Vision is designed to enhance energy security; boost economic development, particularly in rural areas; and improve the environment. Achieving a 25x'25 renewable energy future will reduce the amount of oil imported into the United States, a transfer to foreign nations estimated this year at more than $400 billion.
"Gov. Henry's endorsement is important to the success of the 25x'25 Alliance and the realization of the 25x'25 vision," said Ernie Shea, 25x'25 project coordinator. "The governor is putting Oklahoma in a position to significantly contribute to a renewable energy future that will boost our economy, as well as enhance our national security and improve our environment. By committing to a 25x'25 energy future, Oklahoma can help stimulate the economy and put hundreds of thousands of Americans back to work."
Oklahoma is one of the top producers of fossil fuels in the nation, producing nearly 10 percent of the country's natural gas and three percent of all crude oil in the United States.
However, the state also possesses significant renewable energy resources, and according to a study done by the University of Tennessee Department of Agricultural Economics, Oklahoma ranks 11th nationwide in the potential economic impact of a 25x'25 renewable energy future, generating an additional $13.6 billion in annual economic activity, including an increase of $1.3 billion in net farm income, and creating an additional 135,000 new jobs.
An example of Oklahoma's renewable energy potential is the nearly 700 megawatts of installed wind power capacity, an increase of more than 45 percent since 2005. An additional 142 megawatts are presently under construction, and plans are to produce nearly 2,300 megawatts from wind by 2025.
Oklahoma was recently awarded $15 million from the National Science Foundation to research the development of alternative fuels from non-food crops such as switchgrass. The project includes researchers from Oklahoma State University, the University of Oklahoma and the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation.
Renewable energy accounted for more than 10 percent of the domestically-produced energy used in the United States in the first half of 2008, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
A resolution establishing 25x'25 as a renewable energy goal for the nation was adopted as part of the federal Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. Gov. Henry is the 30th current or former governor to endorse the 25x'25 Initiative, which also has been embraced by 14 state legislatures.