EDMOND — Representatives of the state's oil and gas industry spoke against federal energy regulations at a congressional hearing held Friday at the University of Central Oklahoma.
Six people testified that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other federal regulators' policies impede economic development and prevent the country from achieving energy independence.
The hearing was hosted by Rep. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, a member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and committee member Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, joined him.
Witnesses included Oklahoma Secretary of Energy C. Michael Ming, Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner Patrice Douglas and four representatives of the industry.
Ming said energy independence is the key to the nation's security and economic well-being. He testified that North America could be independent of foreign oil in the next 20 years, but “an unprecedented regulatory effort” is slowing the process.
However, an Associated Press analysis released in June found that the EPA's enforcement actions against oil and gas producers have dropped by 61 percent since 2002 and reached their lowest point last year.
Patricia Horn of OG&E Energy Corporation testified that the EPA's regulations cost the company a lot of money, affecting its ability to make investments and create jobs in Oklahoma.
Horn said the added costs of complying with such regulations, particularly the EPA's Regional Haze Rule, would lead to higher bills for customers. Rep. Farenthold commented that the regulations, in effect, amounted to a tax.
Brian Woodard, of the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association, also testified that air quality regulations such as the Clean Air Act are excessive.
Key EPA regulations
• The Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program requires large oil and gas suppliers to report greenhouse gas emissions data.
• The Clean Air Act limits emissions of certain air pollutants. The policy includes vehicle fuel standards for gasoline and diesel.
• The Regional Haze Rule aims to improve visibility in national parks and wilderness areas by reducing air pollution.
• The Endangered Species Act works to protect threatened or endangered plants and animals in their natural habitats.