Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin signed a bill into law this week giving the State Corporation Commission the explicit power to order the shutdown of any wastewater injection well in the state, a bill that arose from the dispute SandRidge Energy had with the commission late last year regarding state efforts to cause a decrease in earthquakes believed associated with such wells.
House Bill 3158, by Speaker Jeff Hickman, Rep. Richard Morrissette and others makes it clear that the Commission has such direct powers over injection wells and other wells and production.
“Except as otherwise provided by this section, the Corporation Commission is hereby vested with exclusive jurisdiction, power and authority,” stated the new Act which authorizes the commission to take certain emergency actions in emergency situations.
“For purposes of immediaely responding to emergency situatons having potentially critical environmental or public safety impact and resulting from activities within it’s jurisdiction, the CC may take whatever action is necessary, without notice and hearing, including without limitation the issuance or execution of administrative agreements by the Oil and Gas Conservation Division of the CC to promptly respond to the emergency.”
The law takes effect immediately.
SandRidge Energy initially refused to go along with the Commission’s request last year to reduce operations of its injection wells in northern Oklahoma in a move to reduce earthquakes. After weeks of discussions, the company agreed to go along with the Commission’s request, just as the State prepared to go to court.