Michael Teague, Oklahoma’s first secretary of Energy and Environment, spoke Thursday to members of the Claremore business community and toured three manufacturing facilities.
It was Teague’s first visit to Claremore since his new appointment by Gov. Mary Falin.
He said he is very familiar with the Tulsa Port of Catoosa and Army Corp of Engineers operations in Rogers County.
Teague served in the U.S. Army for nearly 30 years before retiring with the rank of colonel.
He worked in several capacities for the Tulsa District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, where he was responsible for a civil works program encompassing all of Oklahoma, a large portion of southern Kansas and the panhandle of northern Texas.
“We have stayed in Oklahoma because of the people,” Teague said.
Coming back to the community with a new assignment, Teague spoke about the relationship between energy and the environment, explaining how each department works hand-in-hand.
“Energy and the environment together — it is really difficult to talk about one side of that discussion without the other,” Teague said.
Teague said he has been successfully working on these issues for years at the state and federal level.
“It is very hard not to find an environmental issue in the state of Oklahoma that does not have an impact on the energy industry, because they are such a huge piece of the economy that drives our state,” Teague said. “It is very hard to talk about an energy issue in that economy that drives the state without talking about its effects on the environment.
Although Oklahoma is only one of a few states to combine the two departments the relationship is not new, according to Teague.
Oklahoma has received a state partnership award from the EPA on projects no one has even heard of, according to Teague.
Many water and shoreline projects have been successful in meeting energy and environmental demands, Teague said.
Teague said he is putting his experience with the Army Corps of Engineers to work, because sometimes a problem is presented and “you just figure it out.”
He provided an example of how water resources have been effectively managed by the Army Corp s of Engineers despite recent drought across the state.
“You get the users of a resource around the table and you make it work,” according to Teague.
Teague has dealt with power generation and distribution, water desalinization, and environmental issues throughout his career. He has facilitated and negotiated numerous solutions, regarding federal and state agencies, tribes, and local stakeholders and has acted as a liaison between the Tulsa District and the United States Congress.
“We can work through a whole host of things and all of those things will impact the Chamber of Commerce,” Teague said. “Energy is about inexpensive reliable power that will bring business to your community.”
Pelco President Phil Albert, AXH Air-coolers Operation Support Manager Jim Simmons and Baker Hughes Manufacturing Director Randy Wilbourn guided Teague through their manufacturing plants after the Chamber of Commerce luncheon.
During the tours, Teague gained first hand knowledge of how local manufacturing companies are effect not only Claremore but the energy industry.