Energy industries important to the new Oklahoma Rural Association


As Monica Miller, an Edmond attorney leads the newly-formed Oklahoma Rural Association, she is getting support and contact from  the state’s energy industries.

That’s because her organization, formed earlier this month is advocating protection not only of farming and ranching and better representation of those areas, but of oil and gas and wind and others in the energy sector.

“That’s right, absolutely,” she said in an interview with OK Energy Today. “You look  at the industry and they’re not drilling in urban Oklahoma City and Tulsa. The places where the industry, that is the backbone of Oklahoma are in rural communities.”

It’s the goal of the Oklahoma Rural Association to educate urban legislators and economic leaders to end their attacks on rural industries in the state.

The oil and gas industry is one of those targeted industries, one she calls a “legacy” industry that has helped the state and its communities since statehood.

“We really need to talk about adjusting. You have the legacy sector and you also have the renewable sector. That’s part of the conversation that we want to talk about,” said Miller, an attorney who spent 12 years as a corporate lawyer and now is a practicing attorney focusing on business transactions.

“There are two big energy issues. Taxing the industry at rates that are questionable is one. Secondly, once you do that, what are you doing with that revenue? And where are those revenues going? And are they actually going back to the places where the drilling and the corporations are located and doing the business?”

Miller grew up in a small town in southwest Oklahoma and said the taxation of the energy industry is a subject her group plans to explore.

“We want to look into that and see how can we do that in a more equitable fashion,” she said, agreeing with the feeling by some that urban legislators see oil and gas production as a goldmine for the state government.

Taxes and the impact on rural Oklahoma are big and important subjects to those who are joining her organization. It raises the question whether ORA would support Democrat Drew Edmondson’s call for a full 7 percent gross production tax on all new and old wells in Oklahoma.

“That clearly would have a monumentally adverse impact on rural Oklahoma. We’re 100 percent against that,” replied Miller. “Those are the type of things in the coming weeks and months, you’ll be hearing policy agendas and messaging from our group.”

While some might see her new organization as one that would only deepen any split between rural and urban leaders and legislators, Miller sees it as an opportunity for education

“Those who truly look beneath the surface can actually bring the groups together. It’s symbiotic because a robust rural economy creates, supports and sustains a robust urban culture and community,” she said. “Those who would have that reaction simply are ignoring the facts of the relationship.

Miller said the ORA plans to eventually hire a lobbyist to be on hand in February at the start of the 2019 session of the Oklahoma legislature.