Task Force Could Be In Charge Of Overseeing OCC If Legislation Passes

Wednesday, April 12th 2017, 7:00 pm
By: Dana Hertneky

In the past couple years, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission has placed limits oil company disposal wells and denied a large OG&E rate increase, but now those same industries could be on a task force to look into the commission.

House Bill 1377 already unanimously passed the House and passed out of a Senate committee Tuesday. 

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission regulates public utilities, oil and gas drilling, rail and pipeline transportation and most recently commissioners have been tasked with the state's response to earthquakes.

House Bill 1377 would create a task force that would look into the agency's structure, performance and funding.

The task force would be made up state legislators and representatives of the oil and gas industry, utilities, and other industries the corporation regulates.

“This task force looks, you know, kind of shady,” said Sean Voskuhl, the State Director of the AARP. “Doesn’t really pass the smell test.”

The AARP typically challenges OG&E on behalf of customers when the utility goes to the Commission to raise rates.  

“That’s really concerning for us, the lack of consumer representation on this task force,” said Voskuhl. 

The title has been removed from the bill, and supporters say they decided to strike the enacting clause to give comfort to those with concerns.

“This is a work in progress, we are listening to all interested parties,” said Mike Jackson with the Oklahoma State Chamber. 

Jackson said the State Chamber has been working with Rep. Weldon Watson and Sen. Adam Pugh, the House and Senate authors of the bill. 

“The issue here is so many of our jobs, so much of the economy goes right through the Corporation Commission which is why it’s one of our highest priorities,” said Jackson. 

Jackson says this measure isn't pointed at any commissioners, the task force would just look at the process.

Voskuhl and other critics of the bill however, question if it's necessary.

“I don’t know if it’s been really explained to us that it’s needed. I don’t know that it’s been explained to us what the motives are,” Voskuhl said.