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KSN: Oil and gas leaders talk regulation

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WICHITA, Kansas – What’s the future of Kansas Oil and Gas? Lawmakers say it all depends on regulation.

“Don’t forget with the Lesser Prairie Chicken, that is the first of many species to come,” says Kansas Republican Tim Huelskamp, a U.S. Congressman from the 1st District.

Huelskamp claims Kansas jobs are endangered by endangered or threatened species. And, while he claims government regulations are costing jobs, he also says there has to be more discussion between all lawmakers on the future of regulatory affairs.

“This is ongoing, and it has to be,” says Huelskamp.

Huelskamp was one of nearly the entire Kansas Congressional District, plus Senator Pat Roberts, speaking to a packed house at the Kansas Independent Oil & Gas Association (KIOGA) meeting on Monday.

The Lesser Prairie Chicken was brought up by producers.The bird’s habitat can’t be disturbed at certain times of the year, and some oil and gas producers say that is costing them money.

“We had to move an oil drilling rig out of Western Kansas, and move it to an area of Butler County because of the (Lesser Prairie) Chicken,” says one producer.

Lawmakers pointed to several environmental regulation issues as one reason the Kansas Oil and Gas industry is not experiencing more growth.

KSN asked lawmakers about keeping the environment clean.

“Of course we have to do that,” says U.S. Congressman Mike Pompeo of the 4th District. “But we also have to have common sense.”

Pompeo joined Senator Pat Roberts in calling for less in the way of new federal regulations.

“We have to keep asking about environmental issues. But, we also have to question new regulations,” said Roberts. “What does that do to the industry involved? How many jobs are involved? What is the catalyst involved? What is the impact of this upon our states and our country?”

Oil and Gas producer Scott Hampel of McCoy Petroleum in Wichita, says he understands oil and gas regulations have to be carefully considered . After all, he says, oil is a high risk, high reward business.

“It takes a big investment to drill an oil and gas well. It’s kind of like Vegas,” said Hampel. “If you drill a dry hole, your money is gone. It’s not like a poor stock choice where you lose a little bit but save some of your principle. But, you have to be reasonably successful to stay in the game.”

And to be successful, Hampel says, the government needs to strike a balance between regulations, the environment and the Oil and Gas industry.

KIOGA President Edward Cross says, state regulations may be helpful in finding the right mix.

“We think the state regulatory process is one that has been around for many decades and that’s the best place for regulatory actions,” says Cross.

However, Cross says, the industry recognizes that federal regulation will certainly continue, and more is likely on the way. So, KIOGA stays active.

“We try to educate policy makers both Republican and Democrats about the impact of the oil and gas industry,” says Cross. “And some of the policies that would help us become more energy independent in this nation and also help our economic growth.”

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