Looking to wrestle control of oil and natural gas development policing from the federal government, governors from 12 producing states have thrown their weight behind the States First Initiative, which is aimed at supporting and enhancing the role of the states as the primary and appropriate regulators.

In a letter written to U.S. energy policy leaders in December, the consortium said it plans to form a state oil and gas regulatory exchange (SOGRE) that would allow experts to meet emerging regulatory challenges and solve unique problems in oil and gas producing states. The SOGRE “creates a dynamic forum where states can reach out and communicate with one another in an ongoing effort to keep current with rapidly changing technology, as well as to share the very best and innovative regulatory procedures from state to state,” the governors wrote in the letter. “As we look to the future, states will continue to deliver effective solutions to regulatory challenges and will remain the worldwide leaders of effective regulatory development.”

The governors claim that states’ local and common sense approach to regulation allows for the safe and environmentally sound development of the nation’s oil and natural gas resources, and will ensure that the country is provided the affordable, homegrown energy it needs to thrive.

“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 letter stated. “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.”

Supporting governors whose states produce the majority of the oil and natural gas, Democrats and Republicans, include Phil Bryant of Mississippi, Robert Bentley of Alabama, Steven L. Beshear of Kentucky, Steve Bullock of Montana, Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania, Jack Dalrymple of North Dakota, Mary Fallin of Oklahoma, Gary Herbert of Utah, John Hickenlooper of Colorado, Sean Parnell of Alaska, Rick Perry of Texas and Brian Sandoval of Nevada.

In addition to the governors, States First is a partnership between the Interstate Oil & Gas Compact Commission and the Ground Water Protection Council.

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

Federal versus state regulation over the last few years has become a hot button topic, especially when it comes to hydraulic fracturing (fracking) oversight. Earlier this month the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released revised underground injection control program permitting guidance for wells that use diesel fuels during fracking activities (see Shale Daily, Feb. 11).

The topic of diesel fuel regulation in fracking has been heating up in recent years, with a bipartisan coalition of senators during the fall of 2012 accusing EPA of overreaching. The senators expressed concerns that EPA was attempting to expand its definition of diesel fuels in the draft permitting guidance to gain more federal control over fracking (see Shale Daily, Oct. 4, 2012).