US governors express support for States First Initiative

Twelve governors from US oil and gas producing states announced their support of the States First Initiative, an effort aimed at supporting and enhancing the states’ role as the primary and appropriate regulators of oil and gas development, the Interstate Oil & Gas Compact Commission said.

“Our programs, which are as varied as the geography, climate, geology, and social fabric of our states, are designed to be flexible, yet effective, in providing the world’s best environmental protection and regulation,” the governors said in a Dec. 13 letter to US energy policy leaders.

“The states’ ability to design effective regulations that reflect state-specific needs is a vital element in the resurgence of our nation’s oil and natural gas industry,” they maintained.

IOGCC and the Groundwater Protection Council formed the initiative to establish a state oil and gas regulatory exchange that will allow experts to meet emerging regulatory challenges and solve unique problems in oil and gas producing states.

The exchange will focus initially on field operations, the letter noted. “This critical area is where the states know best how to conduct oversight of exploration and production activities,” it said. “The program’s initial goals are identifying opportunities for new operating procedures, improving communication with the public and improving efficiency and effectiveness in regulatory oversight.”

Other activities under the initiative include a field inspectors education and certification program, and ongoing efforts to make FracFocus, the online voluntary well stimulation ingredient disclosure website IOGCC and GWPC launched in 2011, more useable and accessible.

The initiative also plans to work with the US Environmental Protection Agency to establish underground injection well peer reviews, and facilitate science and technology transfer from pure and applied research projects being done through the US Department of Energy, national laboratories, universities, and other institutions.

“We have made great progress, and we urge the federal government to leave regulation in the capable hands of the states,” the governors said. “Our programs are working. Our people are on the ground, have decades of experience, and we are following a path of continuous improvement.”

Signing the letter were Govs. Phil Bryant (R-Miss.), Robert Bentley (R-Ala.), Steven L. Beshear (D-Ky.), Steve Bullock (D-Mont.), Tom Corbett (R-Pa.), Jack Dalrymple (R-ND), Mary Fallin (R-Okla.), Gary R. Herbert (R-Utah), John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), Sean Parnell (R-Alas.), Rick Perry (R-Tex.), and Brian Sandoval (R-Nev.).

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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