Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Split Corporation Commission, State Senate Committee Told

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Split Corporation Commission, State Senate Committee Told

Article excerpt

separate agencies was the recommendation Thursday of several groups direct ly affected by decisions issued through that regulatory body.

Alternatives presented to a state senate committee investigating the commission ranged from establishing a separate oil and gas commission to dividing responsibilities of the three commissions between oil and gas, utility regulation and transportation matters.

A recommendation to split the commission is expected to be made by the committee to the full senate, according to Sen. Ray Giles, D-Pocasset, chairman.

About the only group not wanting to divide the commission was the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association but Steven R. Kelley, executive vice president, generally agreed with complaints of previous witnesses about questionable decisions, abuse of power, unqualified staff, inaction, inadequacies and inefficiencies.

"Take the corporation commission away from politicians," urged Richard Darnell, with the Society of Independent Professional Earth Scientists. The politicization of the commission was also a complaint of James L. Stafford, executive director of the National Association of Royalty Owners.

Similiar complaints were made by the Sierra Club, which offered a plan to increase the commission to seven members, one elected from each congressional district and one appointed by the governor.

"The structure of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission," Stafford said, "seems too conducive to politicization and, true or not, the public perceives it, thusly, to be open to chicanery."

"It would seem that over the years, too many decisions were made in a political atmosphere dominated by private rather than public concern and subject to a constituency that barely includes the mineral or royalty owner who must live with those decisions," he said.

Most of the states oil and gas statutes and regulations were drafted by oil company attorneys, Stafford said. Mineral and royalty owners have not had access to the decision-making process.

"We have public regulation of an industry but regulation of that industry, under public sanction, by a small but powerful portion of that industry," Stafford charged.

There have been attempts the entry of mineral and royalty owners into the state regulatory and policy making processes "both by certain elements of the industry association and some attorneys that practice regularly before the commission," Stafford said.

He recommended the commission consider:

- Dividing the commission with one commissioner for the oil and gas division, one for utility regulation and one for transportation.

- Transfering pollution control outside the commission. …

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