Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Morgan `Guts' Bill on Drilling Authority / Due to Superfund Talks

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Morgan `Guts' Bill on Drilling Authority / Due to Superfund Talks

Article excerpt

Negotiations on a $1 million "superfund" Wednesday prompted Rep. Charlie O. Morgan, D-Prague, to "gut" a bill, which would limit the authority of Oklahoma counties and municipalities to regulate oil and gas drilling within their boundaries.

The shell of the bill to limit the authority was kept as a vehicle for the proposed "superfund" bill, which would be used to cleanup and plug wells abandoned by "unstable producers," Morgan said.

It would be earmarked solely for cleanup of blowouts or plugging wells when the operator does not assume the responsibility, he said.

The fund would be funded by an additional excise tax on oil and gas production, he said. It apparently would be a compromise between Morgan and opponents of House Bill 2012, sponsored by Morgan andRep. Don McCorkell, D-Tulsa.

That bill would limit the authority of counties and municipalities. It was stalled Monday in the House Oil and Gas Committee after objections it would let the Oklahoma Corporation Commission "ride roughshod throughout the state" by allowing its rules to supercede those of municipalities and counties.

Any city or county rules that impose requirements on oil and gas drilling more restrictive than those of the corporation commission would be "deemed" to conflict with the commission under Morgan's original bill.

Morgan agreed Wednesday to "gut" the bill and strike its title which holds it for the proposed superfund, once details are worked out.

In other actions, the committee effectively killed three pollution control bills sponsored by Rep. Danny George, D-Elk City, when it voted to "report progress" on them.

Those bills were:

- HB 1776 which would have essentially required a surety bond to be posted for each well drilled to ensure the cost of plugging a well. A blanket surety bond for more than one well would be conditioned on proper abandonment of all wells and ensure plugging of each well. …

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