“The Interstate Oil and Gas Commission (IOGCC) has an enviable position.

As a self-proclaimed “government agency,” they pay no taxes, register no lobbyists, and freely converse with elected officials and government regulators. The Oklahoma government pays for their building, which is on the Governor’s mansion property. Yet they also take major contributions from the fracking industry. When asked for information under Freedom of Information rules, they claim not to be an agency. It is truly the best of all worlds: industry funding, government position of authority, and no oversight.”

It turns out that the IOGCC has played an instrumental role in pushing the agenda for the oil and gas industry, particularly as it pertains to hydraulic fracturing.   Their activities exceed the roles defined for a state compact under their original charter.  According to Lisa Song from InsideClimateNews::

“Congressionally sanctioned as an interstate compact, the IOGCC characterizes itself as a government entity, which allows it to call its lobbying of lawmakers “education.” But in reality, it is led by regulators from industry-friendly oil and gas producing states, and a full third of its members come from the industry itself. The group has worked behind the scenes for decades to prevent federal regulation so stridently that in 1978, the Justice Department argued it should be disbanded because it had evolved into an advocacy organization.”

As a case in point, as early as 1999, the IOGCC had been pushing for the “Halliburton Loophole,”  the provision which exempted fracking from federal oversight under the Safe Drinking Water Act.   When the provision finally did pass under Dick Cheney’s energy bill in 2005, they boasted in a newsletter that they were the force behind it.

Fast forward to 2009: the FRAC act is submitted to Congress to close the “Halliburton Loophole,” thereby providing federal oversight for the practice of fracking.  Concurrently, the IOGCC passed it’s own resolution urging Congress (sounds like advocacy to me) to maintain the “Halliburton Loophole.”   Lawmakers from ten states submitted similar resolutions, some nearly word-for-word copies of IOGCC’s proposal.

The IOGCC has had its hand in a number of other policy decisions, and I urge you to read Lisa Song’s article on this subject.  The bottom line is that the IOGCC cannot have it both ways.  It cannot act like a government agency with all the perks that go with that title (no taxes, no lobbyist registration, free access to state legislators) and at the same time behave like a bunch of lobbyists pressing for Big Oil and Gas Interests.  Sorry, but this goes well beyond “education” of lawmakers.   While I am not a lawyer, this certainly doesn’t sound legitimate to me, and even if it is legal, it certainly does not sound ethical.  In the meantime, all of us are trapped with the huge cost that hydraulic fracturing incurs, both to our environment as well as to our health,  and the practice promises to grow over time,  without adequate oversight.