Next week, I am flying to Biloxi, Miss., for the Southern States Energy Board Conference after Speaker T.W. Shannon appointed me as the delegate from Oklahoma. The focus of the three-day conference will be to network and engage with lawmakers and energy industry professionals from across the energy states on policies and practices for a stronger industry. With today’s energy costs to both the providers and to the consumers at the pump steadily rising, efforts by policymakers nationwide should continue to look for ways to drive down those costs and find alternate energy sources.Here in Oklahoma, we are extremely blessed to have multiple industries prevalent and thriving for our state’s economy and region’s benefit. We have one of the most profitable natural gas reservoirs in the country underneath us, one of the fastest-growing wind energy industries in the region in western Oklahoma, a strong coal industry in eastern Oklahoma, and plenty of Oklahoma sunshine for the solar industry. Oklahoma is in a great position to emerge as a national leader.However, there are definitely roadblocks that stand in our way. While we do have enormous potential in our natural gas reservoirs, we simply don’t have the infrastructure in place yet to allow full potential. In some cases, we are waiting for technology to catch up to that potential. Those of you who have looked into natural gas technology for your vehicles understand the costliness of purchasing or converting those vehicles for natural gas. The reason for this is because the technology is fairly new and the infrastructure needed – gas stations – is fairly sparse across our state. As the industry grows, so will the infrastructure and the incredible cost benefits that have been promised.However, one thing that I am personally wary of is not supporting special carve outs for the energy industry simply based on the incredible economic impact it has on our state. The policies that we pass as a state legislature should never favor one industry over another. True free market economics creates a level playing field for all businesses; large or small. As James Madison stated: “I own myself the friend to a very free system of commerce, and hold it as a truth, that commercial shackles are generally unjust, oppressive and impolitic–it is also a truth, that if industry and labor are left to take their own course, they will generally be directed to those objects which are the most productive, and this in a more certain and direct manner than the wisdom of the most enlightened legislature could point out.”As I represent Oklahoma next week in Mississippi, I will be reminding everyone of the incredible potential Oklahoma presents to the entire region. We shine as a bright light, pointing to the fact that free market principles simply work, and that we are ready and open for business in all industries.