Supreme Court sides with oil and gas group in fight with Kingfisher County Commissioners

Kingfisher County Commissioners have lost a State Supreme Court fight over who has jurisdiction to ban the use of temporary water lines laid by oil and gas drilling companies.

In a ruling this week, the court ruled that the Oklahoma Corporation Commission is the only agency that decides such matters and it has exclusive jurisdiction over oil and natural gas operations. The county commissioners had been sued in August by the Oklahoma Oil and Gas Association.

It led to a statement from Chad Warmington, president of the newly-merged Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association and the Oklahoma Oil and Gas Association.

“We applaud the court’s decision, which reaffirms the Oklahoma Corporation Commission has exclusive regulatory jurisdiction over oil and natural gas operations in our state. This is an important decision for Oklahoma’s energy producers and job creators, ensuring much-needed certainty and uniformity across Oklahoma’s 77 counties.”

Warmington went on to state that a patchwork of local ordinances and regulations only creates unnecessary confusion and threatens environmental protections and public health.

“Using temporary water lines is an industry-standard practice that has numerous environmental benefits, including reducing truck traffic and supporting water recycling efforts,” he added.

The Court’s order today reads in part:

“Petitioner’s request for declaratory relief is granted. The Kingfisher County Commissioners’ ban of temporary oil and gas lines carrying produced water within county road easements is contrary to 52 O.S. Supp. 2015 § 137.1, and the Oklahoma Corporation Commission’s exclusive jurisdiction to regulate oil and gas operations as provided therein, and statutes vesting the Commission with exclusive authority to regulate the transportation and disposal of water.

“Further, a legal challenge to the reasonableness of a rule or regulation imposed by a municipality, county or other political subdivision concerning road use, traffic, noise and odors incidental to oil and gas operations within their boundaries shall be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission.”