Two bills introduced Monday in the Oklahoma Legislature would expand the Oklahoma Corporation Commission's powers to regulate natural gas and oil pipelines in the state.
Both bills arose out of complaints from landowners about the lack of authority the regulatory agency has over pipeline maintenance and safety standards.
House Bill 1424 would give the commission the authority to make and enforce safety standards for all oil and natural gas transmission and distribution pipelines in the state.
State Rep. Purcy Walker, D-Elk City, authored HB 1424 in response to complaints from landowners about natural gas pipeline maintenance in his district, which encompasses five rural counties in western Oklahoma. Landowners in the area have become concerned about buried natural gas pipelines on farmland and drainage areas that have become exposed because of erosion, he said.
While most energy companies have been responsive to landowners' complaints about a lack of maintenance, there is little the OCC can do if a company doesn't volunteer to take care of the problem, Walker said.
"Over the years, a lot of existing pipelines have become exposed, and I want to bring some awareness to the issue," Walker said.
The OCC has the …