Texas Railroad Commissioner Elizabeth Jones has slammed Congress’ attempt to usurp the states’ authority over oil and natural gas exploration and production activities on private and state lands.

“For the first time in 100 years of regulating the energy industry in Texas, the Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC), the permitting agency for all of Texas’ oil and natural gas wells, would be required to have our safety requirements approved [by the federal government] before issuing permits for both our onshore wells and offshore wells” under legislation voted out by the House Energy and Commerce Committee this month, wrote Jones in a letter Friday to Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA).

“This bill…is being rushed through Congress with no state input on the drafting of the legislation…Requiring states to concur with federal drilling regulations both onshore and offshore puts needless hurdles in front of experienced state oversight of drilling for oil and natural gas. Chairman Waxman’s policy is bad for America’s energy security,” she said.

The legislation, the Blowout Prevention Action of 2010 (H.R. 5626), was voted out by the House committee on July 15. The House is expected to vote on the legislation in the coming days, according to Jones.

“H.R. 5626 profoundly usurps state authority over oil and gas exploration and production and puts it [in] the hands of an unknown ‘appropriate federal official,’ whose colleagues have a less than stellar record of at oil and gas operations. It will drive up the the drilling costs of wells at a time when American consumers can least afford the increase energy costs or the declining supply that will necessarily result,” she said.

Jones called for a coalition of experienced states to assist the federal government in their oversight, proposing that experienced state energy regulators create a cooperative to assist the federal government in regulating the drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf off state’s respective coastlines.

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