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Fears of Govcernmental Interference Not New to Oilpatch

By Fears, Ronda | THE JOURNAL RECORD, December 3, 1991 | Go to article overview

Fears of Govcernmental Interference Not New to Oilpatch


Fears, Ronda, THE JOURNAL RECORD


Funny how nothing ever changes.

Today, the hottest topic in the oil and gas industry is governmental intervention in the business through environmental regulations that will wreak economic havoc. Majors and large independents have staged an exodus of the U.S.

oilpatch, and so-called experts claim domestic oil pools have dried up into mere puddles.

Around the time of Oklahoma statehood, back in the days of the Populist movement, a similar tune was playing. Free oil was a hot topic then. Rumors spread of the demise in the oilpatch, which lead to headlines like "Oil Industry Dead _ Towns Deserted." Courtesy of John A. "Jack" Taylor, noted Oklahoma City oilman, who maintains a huge collection of historical and contemporary materials on the oil and gas industry, the first copy of "The Oil World" provided a glimpse into the oilpatch of yesteryear.

"The Oil World" went into publication in September 1909. The home base was Muskogee, and publisher and editor was James E. Jenkins. The first edition was discovered about 20 years ago, sealed in a lead box at the cornerstone of the Muskogee Central High School. Subscriptions cost $1 a year, each copy, 10 cents.

Much like the independent oil industry is now defending the U.S.

oilpatch, Jenkins responded to the cries of a dying domestic oil industry in 1909.

"The story (from a Kansas City newspaper) had reference to towns in the Glenn Pool, once the greatest producing field on earth, and the picture painted was decidedly gloomy," Jenkins wrote.

"The truth, however, is that the wells in that section are producing regularly, and the oil industry is by no means dead." Claiming no ties to any person, organization or political affiliation, Jenkins unleashed a volley of criticism against the national and state government. Federal regulations governing oil leases on Indian land, which particularly affected the oil industry in Oklahoma, were of utmost interest.

"Between the unfortunately hostile attitude of the Interior Department on the one hand and the attempt of the Oklahoma Legislature to `play politics,' on the other, Oklahoma oil interests have suffered very materially the past 18 months," Jenkins wrote.

"It is past understanding that two bodies entrusted with public duties of such great responsibility and so much bearing upon the prosperity of a community should make such little effort to inform themselves upon the questions at issue.

All must admit that the oil business, like every other business, should have the encouragement of favorable transportation laws, competitive markets, liberal construction upon laws, rules and regulations and above all a fair and unprejudiced hearing in case of any disagreement between lessors and lessees.

"And yet, notwithstanding the investment of over $30 million in the Oklahoma fields and the employment of thousands of laborers, this great industry has been continually and continuously hampered and harrassed by politicians at Guthrie (at that time the Oklahoma's State Capitol) or incompetent departmental clerks at Washington.

"The Guthrie bunch have deluded themselves with the notion that they are protecting the `peepul' while the important little fellows at Washington take pains to inform their superiors and friendly press agents that they are `giving grafters h__l' and protecting the poor Indian.

"To those here on the ground all these years, the farce would be amusing if not so distressing to business interests and such a sad commentary on official integrity and intelligence. The Oil World is just as anxious as anybody in Guthrie or Washington to protect the public and the Indians, and to punish real grafters, but it despises grandstand statesmanship.

"All lines of business should be encouraged, oil as well as agriculture, and it is only through such encouragement that communities can prosper.

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