Legislator Spotlight

Legislator Spotlight: Senator Mary Boren, Oklahoma

March 6, 2024



NCEL Point of Contact

Dylan McDowell
Executive Director


What motivated you to get involved with environmental issues?

The young adults in my life have taught me how much more we can do to take care of the environment. The University of Oklahoma is in Senate District 16, Norman Oklahoma and it has one of the most competitive programs in the field of Energy and also Weather. The students in these programs have impressed me with their passion to figure out ways to better care for the environment while also remaining energy independent. It is important for me to show the next generation that I am honoring their future and their concerns with my work at the Capitol.

Way back in 1988 in my senior year of college, I wrote a research paper on global warming based on the increase in temperature that scientists were observing. Oddly enough, my logic professor dismissed the research and said the research was speculative. We now know that the concerns from 1988 were valid. The science has become even more solidified and another generation is now calling for improvement.

What environmental issues are you most passionate about?

I’m mostly interested in making sure all 39 federally recognized tribes in Oklahoma are kept up to date on opportunities to provided through the Inflation Reduction Act to leverage federal dollars to develop and implement their energy plans. Oklahoma has several tribes who have led the way on Solar, Wind, and EVs to benefit their citizens and become stronger economically. In Oklahoma the Tribal Nations have a 15 billion dollar economic impact and are a large employer of Oklahomans who are native and non-native.

As a Senator, I have worked with the Commerce Department, Oklahoma based energy consultants, the Native Caucus, and Tribal Leaders to share helpful information and train stakeholders to get a better understanding of the Inflation Reduction Act and other similar acts. I also have a goal of facilitating the convening of a Clean Energy Summit for Oklahoma Tribal Leaders to leverage the federal dollars.

I’m also excited by the development of plant based plastics. An Oklahoman who graduated from college and high school in my district, is one of the global leaders in the development of bio plastics. Her company is Utopia Plastix and she is recognized around the world for her innovative approach to reducing plastic waste.

How has NCEL helped you in your work?

NCEL has helped me stay up to date and connected with state and federal leaders who are familiar with policy initiatives. Also, NCEL is a catalyst for younger members of the Oklahoma State Legislature who are passionate about Environmental Policy to feel connected and supported by a broader group of legislators. NCEL also gives a pragmatic way for Oklahoma lawmakers to share our successes to an audience that will truly appreciate what we have accomplished and the unique opportunities we have to solve national environmental problems.

NCEL is the primary avenue for me to feel optimistic and empowered to collaborate with important stakeholders. Knowing that I can call upon the expertise of NCEL staff who can point me in the right direction is a tremendous boost of confidence.

What is your greatest environmental policy success story? 

My greatest environment policy success story has been keeping Tribal Leaders engaged around federal funding available to develop and implement their energy plan. NCEL helped initiate this focus during the 2022 Summer Conference in Denver when several speakers focused on the impact Tribal Leaders are having to care for the environment and to develop clean energy.