If Libertarian candidate Todd Hagopian were sitting on the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, he would likely be a “no” vote to declare oil production a “waste” in order to assist some in the oil and gas industry.
The businessman from Bixby is an opponent of Commissioner Todd Hiett, a Republican and in an interview with OK Energy Today said his political beliefs tell him, “Production curbs hurt your ability to compete on the open market.”
He’s a strong believer in letting the open or free market dictate what happens to the energy industry.
“Any government interference into a free market can inherently make states more expensive, so you’re, at your best, hurting consumers, intentionally making some companies more profitable while several others will not be able to compete,” said Hagopian, a supporter of less regulations, not more and making sure a regulation doesn’t harm one business and help another.
“And the problem is, anytime a company were to come to a government agency and ask for more government interference, you have to be inherently skeptical. Why is that company wanting more government interference when they know it will hurt their consumers?”
This is Hagopian’s first-ever state-wide political campaign, a decision reached with the support of others in the Libertarian party. Hagopian is the president of Unarco, a company owned by Berkshire Hathaway. He is also the northeast regional chair of the Oklahoma Libertarian Party’s Tulsa region.
The question of prorationing of crude oil production is one before the Corporation Commission which was requested by the Oklahoma Energy Producers Alliance to take the action. The OEPA contends the low prices have resulted in the produced crude oil being “wasted.” As a Libertarian, Hagopian favors letting the free market work.
“It’s already popped back up. Consumers are now going back to work. You know, people are driving on the streets again. People are starting to take summer vacations again. The free market’s gonna take care of this temporary oil crisis,” he said. “There’s nothing so permanent as a temporary government program. And if you put this in, we will be talking about production curbs 40 years from now.”
Hagopian’s stance is the same when it comes to other forms of energy whether it’s wind, solar, coal and even nuclear.
“The government does not need to be helping,” he added. “Government’s made so many market decisions in the past and we should not be allowing them to make so many choices for us, when the market is perfectly capable of making the choice themselves.”
As for his campaign against Commission Chairman Todd Hiett, “I’m not going to run an attack ad campaign. I think just putting my Libertarian differences out there will make it very clear—-my beliefs about picking winners and losers.”
But he also isn’t afraid to criticize Hiett for not wanting to reopen the infamous ATT bribery case that sent a former Commissioner to prison after new evidence had been raised by a group of consumers who contended a bribed vote from years earlier should be reversed.
The State Supreme Court refused to send the matter back to the Commission and Hagopian has questions about why the Commission wasn’t interested in reopening the controversial matter.
“I’m just saying if you’re unwilling to investigate that, then what else is happening that you’re not investigating?”
But Hagopian has other questions about Commissioner Hiett such as his membership on the board of directors of the Tulsa-based Spirit Bank, something that the state Constitution forbids.
“I do not believe that you are allowed to have an indirect interest in an entity that secures contracts from companies who are governed by the Commission. While I am not intimately familiar with Spirit Bank’s operations, I believe it draws the question on whether they do business with the oil, gas, transportation, and public utility companies in Oklahoma.”
Hagopian said it’s his believe that regulation-setting members of government “must be able to show that they are not violating their oath of office to remain neutral. To my knowledge, Mr. Hiett has never answered that question.”