Legislative Affairs September 2014

The Oklahoma Oil and Gas Association (OKOGA) has reported that the initial hearing for House Interim Study 3-14 (sub-ground water usage for fracking purposes), by Rep. Steve Vaughan, R-Ponca City, was held on Tuesday, September 9.  About 80 people attended the hearing.  The agenda listed: Derrick Smithee, Chief, Water Quality Programs, Oklahoma Water Resources Board (OWRB); Blayne Arthur, Deputy Commissioner and Public Information, State Dept. of Agriculture, Food and Forestry; J.D. Strong, Executive Director, OWRB.

No industry representatives were on the official agenda.  OKOGA had confirmed twice with Rep. Vaughan’s office that an industry representative would be there to speak, and there was. He was not asked to speak, however.  The Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC) had not been formally asked to speak either.

J.D. Strong gave a presentation entitled, “Ground Water Usage for Fracking Purposes,” and went through the basics of how much water is used by various segments of the economy and where it is used.  He clearly stated several times that the oil and gas industry represents a small percentage of water usage.  Blayne Arthur gave a presentation on “Water and Agriculture.”  She showed the importance of water to the agriculture industry and how much they use.  Her presentation stated, “No water, no food.”  There were several other speakers as well.

Several times it was mentioned that there were not enough inspectors in the field.  Rep. Vaughan did call on an OCC representative who was attending the meeting and asked her to speak, but without prior notice she was not prepared to speak or answer any questions on the number of OCC inspectors in the state.  Matt Skinner with the OCC later told The Oklahoman that there were about 185,000 active wells and 70 inspectors available.

Although Steve Everley with Energy in Depth was prepared to give a presentation entitled “Water Use and Hydraulic Fracturing: Myths and Facts,” he was not given an opportunity to speak.  His testimony will be sent to legislators.

There were a number of articles written about the meeting (links are included below):

NewsOK: Fracking Subject of Oklahoma Legislative Study

eCap: Study Highlights Water Contamination Concerns

eCap: Fracking Study Draws Crowd

Journal Record: Mixing Oil and Water