The Edmond Sun

Local News

July 30, 2012

Murphy cites commission successes

EDMOND — Most Oklahomans are unaware that the Corporation Commission is involved with nearly three-quarters of the state’s economy, said Bryan Gonterman, AT&T Oklahoma state president.

Corporation Commissioner Dana Murphy said she has been promoting business in Oklahoma while explaining to everyday Oklahomans what the commission does.

Transportation, oil and gas, public utilities and the storage and dispensing of petroleum-based products are the four areas regulated by the Corporation Commission. It oversees the conservation of natural resources while balancing consumers’ needs.

“I can say the commission has been busy since I became commissioner three and a half years ago,” said Murphy, R-Edmond.

The commission recently selected Commissioner Patrice Douglas to serve as chairwoman. Murphy served as chairman since January 2011. Chairmanship of the commission changes routinely without a set amount of service time, said Douglas, R-Edmond.

“We know that the commission’s high standards of professional conduct and competency will continue under the leadership of Commissioner Douglas, and we look forward to working with her in her new role as chair,” Gonterman said.

Gonterman said Murphy has provided steady leadership for the commission, industry and consumer representatives who have appeared before her.

“She has been a consummate leader and visionary on a variety of important efforts that have continued to move our state forward. I thank her for her outstanding service,” he said.

Murphy highlighted the commission’s role with business since she took office in 2008. This would include adoption of some of the most significant changes in oil and gas rules in the past 20 years, Murphy said.

“It would also be passage of the Shale Reservoir last year, which accommodates longer horizontal laterals in shale,” Murphy said. “It would be adoption of some of the most significant changes in telecom rules in the past 20 years, which we accomplished this year.”

The 2010 legislative passage to allocate $2.7 million from the Petroleum Excise Tax helps to stabilize funding of the Oil and Gas Division, she said. Changes were made to the horizontal drilling rules as well as adopting FracFocus.

“I give the Legislature credit for improving our well spacing regimen, so that it will accommodate the kind of drilling we have to do with longer laterals,” said Bill Whitset, Devon Energy executive vice president.

Americans are curious about how energy corporations are handling oil and gas exploration during the shell revolutions, Whitset said. Oklahomans understand better than most other states that regulators and the oil and gas industry can work together, he added.

“One of the things that’s difficult for us to convey to people in areas where they haven’t experienced it is that a solid regulatory framework with people like our commissioners, who understand what we do, and what we need to do to keep it safe and environmentally friendly is such a blessing,” Whitset said.

As of July 1, Oklahoma oil and natural gas producers have been required to disclose the chemicals used in their hydraulic fracturing.

Whitset credited the Corporation Commission for helping to streamline electric utilities to be able to design long-term natural gas contracts.

“That’s leading edge. … Other states look at what Oklahoma has done here and say, ‘Wow. That’s in the interest of the consumers,’” Whitset said. “Clearly it’s in the interest of the producers because we can have a better opportunity to sell gas and commit it long term within our state without having to think about building pipeline infrastructure to take it out of state.”

The Corporation Commission needs to have enough resources to enforce the rules, Whitset said. This year also brought the extension of the Indemnity Fund for another 10 years, used for the clean-up of underground storage tanks, Murphy said.

Devon Energy is focused on developing resources safely and properly because it’s good for the country, Oklahoma and consumers, Whitset said.

Legislative processes involving the Corporation Commission are more collaborative today with stakeholders representing divergent interests, Murphy said. She pointed out more inclusion with the AARP and the Oklahoma Sustainability Network.

“We really never had before the active participation of the Sierra Club, and various mineral owner and land owner groups,” Murphy said.

jcoburn@edmondsun.com | 341-2121, ext. 114

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