Oklahoma Business Community Joins Voices Urging Senate Repeal Of BLM Methane Rule
Oklahoma’s leading business group is adding its support to the repeal of a late-term Obama administration rule targeting oil and natural gas development on federal lands amid media reports that some senators remain undecided on the issue.
Western leaders, including members of Congress, tribes, business groups and local elected officials, have been urging Congress to repeal the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) regulation, finalized after the 2016 election, through the Congressional Review Act (CRA). The House passed a CRA resolution disapproving the rule in a 221-191 vote on Feb. 3, and the Senate may take up the resolution following its President’s Day recess next week.
Some senators outside the West have not decided how they will vote on the resolution, according to media reports. U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) told reporters on Feb. 14 that she is “still reviewing it” and has “a number of concerns about it.” In the meantime, senators determined to repeal the regulation are “explaining it to some of our colleagues who are not Westerners why we don’t need it,” said Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).
“The US House did the right thing by rejecting this unnecessary and over reaching regulation and we strongly urge the Senate to do the same,” Fred Morgan, president and chief executive officer of the State Chamber of Oklahoma, said in a statement to Western Wire. The chamber represents over 1,500 businesses that employ 350,000 people in the state.
“We applaud the US House for their action and hope these rules will soon be eliminated so the industry can get back to work with a continued focus on creating jobs and contributing to the economy in a responsible way,” Morgan said.
Morgan’s remarks follow formal comments he submitted to the BLM last April urging the agency to withdraw the rule.
“As it is currently written, the implementation of the proposed rule will lead some operators to shut-in wells prematurely, decreasing the supply of domestic oil and natural gas, reducing royalty revenues, and driving up costs for consumers,” Morgan wrote on behalf of the chamber.
“Oil and gas production is already a heavily-regulated industry,” Morgan continued. “Any new burden, particularly in light of low oil and natural gas prices, could have significant and negative consequences on every level of our state: local economies, small businesses, school districts, state budgets and more.”
U.S. House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah), who sponsored the House-passed resolution of disapproval against the rule, urged the Senate to follow suit in a commentary piece published on Western Wire on Feb. 14
“Repealing the venting and flaring rule under the CRA offers members of the Senate the opportunity to make good on our fundamental constitutional obligation,” Bishop wrote. “This action also protects people. We will save thousands of jobs that are supported by America’s domestic energy industry, including independent energy producers—the small, family-run businesses that are most heavily impacted by this oppressive rule.”