07/02/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Building a New Eco-Economy in Oklahoma

Oklahoma is a place so beautiful it has inspired iconic American songs, films, art and literature. Growing up in Tulsa, I was raised on these great stories. Much of what draws me back home is knowing that within Oklahoma's landscape lies the next great chapter in America's story--transforming our energy future. The Great Plains with rushing winds can generate massive amounts of clean energy. Across the state there is a sea of natural gas just below our red soil. Endless fields of switchgrass can be harvested as a clean alternative to oil. Other unharnessed energy sources include solar power, biomass, and geothermal, not to mention the biggest resource of all, people. At a time when we need it most, Oklahoma has a potential economic job boom screaming for political leadership. The possibilities are infinite for building a new eco-economy in Oklahoma, but we are facing one major obstacle: Senator Jim Inhofe.

Every time Congress has tried to make progress toward a clean energy future, Jim Inhofe has stood in the way. Instead of pushing to put Oklahoma at the forefront of new economic opportunities, he has stubbornly chosen to stick Oklahomans with rising gas prices while providing no alternatives.

Recently I met State Senator Andrew Rice who is running for U.S. Senate against the incumbent Jim Inhofe. Rice is a young, intelligent, and idealistic Harvard Divinity School graduate who truly wants to make Oklahoma a better place. He has traveled the globe doing humanitarian work. Rice is clearly a person who is looking beyond his own backyard to help those in need. Unlike Inhofe, who remains the lone Senator to believe global warming is a "hoax," Rice is placing energy and the environment at the forefront of his campaign. This is the kind of change we need in Oklahoma.

Climate change is happening and our dependence on fossil fuels is the leading cause. Severe weather patterns in Oklahoma are causing catastrophic repercussions, especially for the 17 percent that depends on agriculture for their livelihood. Now with gasoline at $4.00, many Oklahomans are spending most of their paychecks at the pump. To have any chance of tackling these problems, we need a change of leadership in Washington.

Andrew Rice offers that promise. He understands that moving Oklahoma toward clean energy isn't just about the economy, it is about "Creation Care." It is about preserving the natural beauty and wildlife we have in Oklahoma. Our faith bestows upon us a responsibility to take care of each other and the planet. More than ever, our actions will dictate the future we leave our children.

I love Oklahoma and am proud of my heritage. It is where I go when I need to recharge my spirit. It is truly where my heart is and will always be. But few of us could honestly believe that everything in the state today is "OK." I often dream of moving back with my family, and envision the progress that will be. Andrew Rice, as a United States Senator, will help guide Oklahoma to that brighter future.