Guest blog by
Dewey Bartlett Jr. and
Over the past few months, many of us representing the conventional oil and natural gas industry have been reflecting upon our experience at the Oklahoma legislature. Even though our position did not win the day, we are all very proud that we very respectfully conveyed our facts and recommended solutions.
Most of our group has been through this process numerous times and we all subscribe to the approach that a very successful oil and gas lobbyist, Richard Hutton, said years ago. He observed that “we only have two kinds of people in the state legislature; friends and potential friends”.
That viewpoint is as spot on today as it was 20 years ago. Unfortunately, I recently read a piece written by an oil and gas lobbyist where he basically said that their group would punish those that didn’t vote like they wanted on a specific issue and reward the ones that do. To threaten a withdrawal of political and financial support is, in our view, not a way to win friends or much less consider an issue with an open mind.
It is very short sighted to require a litmus test. I am proud that we conventional operators of oil and natural gas wells do not require a litmus test. We just ask to do what is in the best interests of Oklahomans.
To threaten an elected legislator or a legislative candidate that there will be consequences on how he or she votes on one single issue borders on political bullying. What happens if their group is unsuccessful in unseating legislators that vote against their litmus test issue? In my experience in the capital, friends come and go but enemies have long memories.
The Oklahoma Energy Producers Alliance lost a very close and contentious vote at the end of the legislative session. We also took note of how everyone voted. But we did so in order to know the legislators with whom we need to work harder.
The answer is not to declare a political jihad on those that disagreed with us. It is for us to simply get better in communicating our position with all of our legislative friends, both current and future.
We will get better.