Washington (GGM) Analysis | July 15, 2020 by Erika Browning
In 1901, oil was discovered in Tulsa—the Red Fork area to be exact, which is where my grandfather lives to this day. Within a short five years, Tulsa was declared the “Oil Capital of the World”. This title has been worn proudly by this incredible little city for well over a century. It’s a source of pride that locals have rigs on their land or receive mineral rights for oil supplies.
Beyond Tulsa’s history, its present is also wrapped up in oil. Conoco Phillips is headquartered just a short 45 minutes away in Bartlesville. Oil giants like Waite Phillips, and William Skelly made astronomical amounts of money off the oil that sits underneath the city. When oil prices dip, the effects are felt economically by thousands of Oklahomans. Financial investments depreciate, jobs are on the cutting board, and families worry about paying bills. And that’s just a threat that can be seen coming—let alone when an unforeseen shock to the system occurs. The latter effect was painfully felt when my husband’s company laid off a significant number of its workers during the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis. This is a company that hasn’t had such a layoff in its entire 100 years.
Despite its reliance on oil, Tulsa is also a thriving, progressive city. Citizens are constantly looking for ways to improve the quality of life. I often call Tulsa “my little purple mecca in a desperately red state”. In June 2020, it was announced that Tulsa was in the final running for Elon Musk’s new Tesla truck plant—against Austin, TX. While I do sincerely love the diversity and culture in Austin, Tulsa desperately needs this.
The Tesla Cybertruck Gigafactory would bring in up to 10,000 jobs to a city that deserves to be appreciated. Tulsa offers the romantic pull of Route 66, a diverse populus and a storied history of hard working men and women. There are currently several charging stations for electric vehicles in the Tulsa area, with many more planned as the need arises. With the apparent reversal of our local energy dependence on the horizon, some die-hard oil folk might be resistant to the idea of Tesla being such a prominent fixture in Tulsa. But I assure you, more citizens are in complete support of this move than not.
Why can’t oil and renewable energy coexist? Sure, the goal is ultimately to end our dependence on fossil fuels, especially if we have any hope of leaving a sustainable planet for future generations. One thing I have learned about my fellow citizens is this: we are reluctant to change but when given the right guidance and tools, we don’t need to be afraid. It could be just the step we need to kickstart climate change in the right direction in one of the most conservative, oil-dependant states in the US.
Oklahomans aren’t stupid, we are proud. We are a large group of people who have had to adapt for generations. Change may take a bit more time, and we are behind the coastal states, but I believe this could make a great impact in leading to change. I also firmly believe that should the country see such a deep red, oil loving state turn its sights to EVs, it could snowball through to the rest of the red states. ♻️
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