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,
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
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. …