Congressman Frank Lucas represents Oklahoma’s Third Congressional District, which covers a broad swath of the state extending west to the far end of the Panhandle, south to the Red River and stopping just short of Tulsa and Bartlesville to the east.
Lucas is an Oklahoma State University graduate who lives with his wife Lynda on a farm and ranch in Roger Mills County in far western Oklahoma when he’s not in Washington, D.C.
He makes it a practice to schedule yearly town hall meetings throughout his district, which covers more than 34,000 square miles, mostly rural, and is home to almost 700,000 people. About one-third of his constituents live outside city limits.
Most of Oklahoma City and all of Tulsa and Lawton lie outside his district, making Enid, Stillwater, and Ponca City the largest population centers in the Third District. The two largest industries in the district are oil and gas and agriculture.
Lucas is known for his conservative views and his dedication to agriculture.
He recently lost his seat on the Agriculture Committee in a reshuffling after the Republican Party lost its majority in the U.S. House of Representatives.
He is the senior member on the House financial Services Committee and the ranking member of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee.
When Lucas stopped in Stillwater for a town hall meeting with constituents on Wednesday, he fielded several questions about climate change and energy policy.
On his Congressional website Lucas says he is committed to ensuring that the nation harnesses innovation to improve energy efficiency and effectiveness.
He said some of his colleagues from the Eastern states don’t believe any fossil fuel use is acceptable but he believes there will be a need to use energy sources like natural gas as we transtion to a system that depends more on renewable energy.
“The issue is about how we heal our economy. I won’t deny I’ve got a very parochial set of interests,” Lucas said, noting that there is a huge number of wind farms in his district.
He also said he believes we need to enhance our ability to gather data to improve both short and long-term weather forecasting. Although Lucas didn’t explicitly address climate change, he acknowledge there have been changes to weather patterns.
“First off, I’m a farmer by trade so the weather matters every day to me ... the weather patterns have become more complicated,” Lucas said. “The short answer is: I care. I see things happening on my own farm.”
He also addressed several other concerns:
Lucas said there is a lot of talk right now about gerrymandering, the process of forming districts to achieve a certain electoral result even if the shape of the district and the distribution make no sense. He doesn’t think it’s a problem for Oklahoma, which he said has “clean lines.”
Lucas said he shares his constituents’ frustration with receiving non-stop phone calls in spite of the no-call list adopted when landlines were more common.
“It is out of hand, it surely is out of hand,” he said. “There’s got to be a way to get a grip on this.”
He said he is concerned about the loss of institutional knowledge he sees at governmental agencies as staff leaves due to lack of funding and low wages.
Lucas said some who want smaller government think that starving it is the only way to make it smaller, but he believes it would be better to cut the number of employees and pay the ones who are left.
People need to understand that there is a trade-off to shrinking government, he said. Fewer people working for the government means fewer services.