New Environmental Costs Threaten Industry's Economics

Article excerpt

Implementation costs of proposed federal environmental regulations could make petroleum industry concerns over last year's tax legislation debate seem like child's play, speakers warned the 78th annual meeting of the Oklahoma Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association on Wednesday.

"The new National Ambient Air Quality Standards, adopted by the Environmental Protection Agency this spring, added another layer on top of air regulations that we as a country have already been unable to comply with," explained Wayne Gibbens, president of the General Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association, Washington, D.C.

Attempts are under way to get the new standards deferred for four years to allow time for scientific-based studies. Gibbens said that Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., has been a major player pushing for the deferment. This is an issue that affects many businesses throughout the country, Gibbens said, so support is growing from a variety of groups to defer or overturn the requirements, which significantly strengthen standards on ozone and reduce the regulated size of particulate matter. He said 178 members of the House have signed as co-sponsors of the deferment legislation, including 51 Democrats and estimated that possibly 20 to 30 more Democrats would vote for the bill. Hearings are set for Oct. 1, but the bill has not yet been scheduled to go to the floor. "We can reasonably expect to prevail on this in the House," Gibbens said. "But we may have to make the bill veto-proof, by getting enough votes to override. We really don't know if we can do that in both the House and Senate. "The exposure in dollar terms is so much greater, it makes last year's tax bill look like child's play," Gibbens said. At the same time Congress will be wrestling with this issue, CBS this fall is expected to air a program on the Campbell Well waste disposal site in Louisiana, Gibbens said. This is a highly emotional issue with residents of a Louisiana town worrying about citizens and children getting sick, water pollution problems and air quality concerns stemming from location of a disposal site for exploration and production oilfield wastes. He said the issue was played up on local news in Louisiana since 1994. Last March CBS contacted Mid-Continent for information as part of an investigative story they were doing on the facility, which is scheduled to air this fall. …


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