Commission Slates Hearing on Water Quality Standards / for Petroleum Inustry Y

Article excerpt

An emergencyhearing has been scheduled for 9:30 a.m. today at the Oklahoma Corporation Commission to adopt temporary water quality standards and definitions for the petroleum industry.

Corporation commissioners Jim Townsend and Bob Hopkins agreed to consider five rules proposed by the commission's staff during a meeting Tuesday morning.

The actions are the aftermath of an Oklahoma Supreme Court ruling in July that found the commission is exclusively responsible for creating and enforcing water quality standards for the petroleum industry.

In the court case, Oklahoma Water Resources Board versus Matador Pipeline Inc., the justices found that the petroleum industry had been exempted from the water board's jurisdiction by a 1981 state law.

In addition, the court said the commission could not delegate its authority to the water board, because the commission had been given exclusive jurisdiction.

Prior to the court case, pollution by the petroleum industry was under the jurisdiction of the water board, through a memorandum of understanding between the commission and the water board.

The water board had been authorized by the Environmental Protection Agency to enforce water quality standards that meet the federal agency's guidelines.

Because the federal agency is already threatening to pull $147 million in funding for water and sewage projects out of the state if this is not resolved, and because there are no existing rules on the commission's books for dealing with water pollution by the petroleum industry, an emergency hearing was considered necessary.

In a notice of proposed rulemaking expected to be signed today, the commissioners agreed to hear the proposed rules at 9 a.m. Nov. 12. Today's emergency hearing and the Nov. 12 hearing are scheduled to be heard in room 301 of the Jim Thorpe Building in Oklahoma City.

A technical conference, which can be attended by anyone interested in the proposed rules, is scheduled for 9 a.m. Oct. 27 in room 105 of the Jim Thorpe Building. The written comments are due Nov. …

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