April Legislative Affairs

Aaron Meek & Dave Hampton

Hampton and Milligan

Several major legislative deadlines passed during the prior month. Bills that advanced are as follows:

HB 2303 (Rep. Watson) and SB 1139 (Sen. Marlatt) has advanced and would extend the termination date for the OCC plugging fund from 2016 to 2021 and requires the balance to be maintained at $5 million.

HB 2599 (Rep. Wood & Sen. Sharp) would prohibit flying a drone below 400 feet above “critical infrastructure” and it would prohibit flying a drone so close to “critical infrastructure” as “to interfere with the operations of or cause a disturbance to the facility.” The bill defines “critical infrastructure” to include several types of facilities, including refineries, natural gas compressor stations, LNG terminals or storage facilities, gas processing plants, natural gas distribution facilities, pipeline interconnections, aboveground pipelines, and other facilities. This bill recently passed the House and has been sent to the Senate.

SB 1414 (Sen. Marlatt & Rep. Calvey), the Oil and Gas Water Recycling and Reuse Act, would consider “fluid oil and gas waste” as the property of the person who takes possession of that waste for the purpose of treating the waste until that person transfers the waste or treated waste to another person for disposal or use.

HB 3158 (Rep. Hickman) would confirm that the OCC has the complete authority to regulate saltwater disposal wells and to immediately respond to “emergency situations having potentially critical environmental or public safety impact” without notice or hearing. HB 3158 passed the House and has been sent to the Senate. This bill passed the House and Senate and has been sent to the Governor.

SB 1122 (Sen. Griffin) requires agencies to encourage industrial use of water produced in oil & gas operation. It has been suggested that increased industrial use of wastewater could reduce the use of injection wells. This bill passed the House and Senate and has been sent to the Governor.

One key bill that did not advance was HB 1802 (Rep. Hardin). This bill would require applicants for newly drilled or newly converted injection or disposal wells to submit information on the impact of the well on the conditions of roads and bridges used to access the well. The OCC would be prohibited from issuing a permit for the well unless they found that the roads and bridges met minimum standards and could be used without any substantial detriment to the roads and bridges. If the roads and bridges did not meet the minimum standards, the applicant would have to upgrade or pay to upgrade them. The bill would also require the OCC to notify the Department of Transportation and the applicable boards of county commissioners of the proposed well and plan for the applicant to upgrade or pay to upgrade the roads and bridges. Significantly, the bill states that “[i]f the Department or boards of county commissioners disapprove the plan, the Commission shall work with the Department or boards to revise the plan.” This bill was not heard by the deadline and is now dormant.

If you know of legislative or regulatory activity that you would like the Legislative Affairs Committee to analyze and discuss, please let us know by contacting Aaron Meek at meek@hampton-milligan.com or (405) 235-5620.