Okla. Supreme Court: Oil & Natural Gas Regulatory Oversight Belongs with Corporation Commission | Oklahoma Oil & Gas Association

Okla. Supreme Court: Oil & Natural Gas Regulatory Oversight Belongs with Corporation Commission

An Oklahoma Supreme Court order issued Monday, again, affirms the Corporation Commission has exclusive oil and gas regulatory oversight. Monday’s order adds more specificity to one issued last month in which the state’s high court confirmed the OCC’s “exclusive jurisdiction” over industry oversight.

Chad Warmington, OIPA-OKOGA president, applauded the court’s latest order, telling NewsOK: “The court’s ruling clearly defines what local governments can and cannot regulate, providing clarity for the oil and natural gas industry by eliminating the possibility of a patchwork of regulations that vary from county to county.

The case at question involved the use of temporary water lines – an industry-standard practice that has numerous environmental and community benefits, including reducing truck traffic and supporting water recycling efforts. Kingfisher County’s ban on the use of such lines is contrary to state law, the court ruled.

A patchwork of local ordinances and regulations creates unnecessary confusion, thwarts innovative solutions, and threatens environmental protections and public health.

Here’s a quick refresher on Oklahoma’s strong, modern oil and gas regulatory program.

  1. Patchwork of Regulations Inefficient, Costly: For generations, the OCC has effectively managed and developed regulations involving oil and gas development. The state organization has the technical experts, the experience, and history of making smart, science-based decisions to benefit job creators, communities and the environment.A patchwork of regulations among Oklahoma’s 77 counties and 597 municipalities – effectively creating 674 unique sets of regulations – is arbitrary, inefficient and not practical. In some situations, these local ordinances amount to an illegal outright ban on oil and gas development.
  2. Modern State-Based Oversight: Oklahoma has a rich history of responsible oil and gas development, and, as the industry has evolved, so too have our regulations. Following a 2015 law, statewide oil and gas regulatory oversight is managed almost exclusively through the OCC. Specifically, among many regulations, operators must follow strict rules concerning well construction and operation to protect groundwater and air quality. Operators, too, must disclose the additives and chemicals used for each well through FracFocus, a national, searchable online clearinghouse.
  1. Effective Regulations: Oklahoma’s regulatory oversight program has earned high marks from environmental and non-profit organizations, like Resources for the Future and the State Review of Oil and Natural Gas Environmental Regulations (STRONGER). The independent STRONGER commission, for example, concluded that Oklahoma’s “program is, over all, well-managed, professional and meeting its program objectives.”

Bottom line? Avoiding a patchwork of rules is why the OCC retains almost exclusive jurisdiction over oil and natural gas regulations. The OCC has experts on staff and years of experience dealing with the complexities of the energy industry. If we work together in a deliberate and thoughtful manner, we will develop solutions that meet the needs of all concerned parties.