By Daisy Creager
The Journal Record
OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Municipal League is working with the oil and gas industry on solutions to avoid a proposed law boosting protections of mineral owners.
House Bill 2150, which passed the state Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday in a close 7-5 vote, would prohibit municipal- and county-level policy from interfering with the use and development of oil and natural gas.
Authored by state Rep. John Pfeiffer, R-Orlando, and state Sen. Mark Allen, R-Spiro, the bill would bolster the Oklahoma Corporation Commission’s regulatory status and protect mineral owners from local laws interfering with or limiting the use of minerals or prohibiting access to minerals.
OML Executive Director Mike Fina said the bill would create a liability for municipalities trying to plan developments. Fina said OML has been in discussions with industry leaders and is planning a meeting in the next 10 days to discuss alternatives in the hope the bill will not become law.
He said the organization is looking for ways to have consistent ordinances to make things easier for the industry, and the industry is working to address common complaints of municipalities, such as noise, bright lights at night and truck traffic.
“My long-term hope is that municipalities and the oil and gas industry find a way to coexist better than we have in the past,” Fina said. “I know that is a bright-eyed dream because we haven’t always been the best of friends, but there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be. They’re so important to our state, as we feel we are too, and we should be working together on issues.”
Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association – Oklahoma Oil and Gas Association President Chad Warmington said in a statement OML has reached out to the organization about working on solutions with community leaders, and OIPA-OKOGA supports the bill.
“We are pleased HB 2150 has advanced out of committee, and we continue to support this legislation, which would protect private property rights from unreasonable overregulation while continuing to allow local governments to reasonably regulate road use, noise, odors, fencing and setbacks in accordance with state statute,” Warmington said.
The Oklahoma Energy Producers Alliance, however, is not supportive of the measure, OEPA President Mike Cantrell said.
He said the organization has noticed overreach on the municipal level, but complete control should not be taken away from municipal and county governments.
“We think it’s an overreach and in the long run it’s going to create problems within cities and municipalities and especially county governments we’re going to have to deal with as an industry,” Cantrell said. “I don’t think the short-term gain is worth the pain.”