The acrimony between Texas and the federal government — over oil spill and air emissions regulations, to name but two points of friction — continued Tuesday at the Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC).
Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution that says RRC “opposes all proposals from the present administration and from Congress that may usurp the rights of the states to regulate and manage oil and natural gas exploration and production within their sovereign borders.”
Commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones, a vocal opponent of oil spill legislation wending its way through Congress (see Daily GPI, Aug 9; Aug. 2), led the charge. The resolution specifically targeted provisions in the recently passed H.R. 5626, the “Blow-out Prevention Act of 2010;” in H.R. 3534, the “Consolidated Land, Energy and Aquatic Resources (CLEAR) Act;” and in S.3663, the “Clean Energy Jobs and Oil Company Accountability Act of 2010.”
Jones has criticized recent Washington actions since the blow-out of BP plc’s Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico. She sent a letter of protest to President Obama in June in reaction to the moratorium on deepwater drilling. Recently she advised the Texas congressional delegation in a letter on July 28 to vote against the Blow-out Prevention Act, which was rolled into the CLEAR Act. The CLEAR Act includes federal oversight of all coastal waters seaward of the line of mean high tide as the boundary.
“Thanks to the foresight of our state’s early leaders, the Republic of Texas entered into the Union in 1845 and retained jurisdiction out to three leagues offshore,” Jones said. “That boundary was adjudicated in the Tidelands case in the 1940s and finally resolved by Congress in 1953. As established in the U.S. Supreme Court case, New York v. United States [112 S.Ct. 2408 (1992)] the Congress may not simply commandeer the legislative and regulatory processes of the states.”
She added that the exploration and production of state-owned minerals in state waters must be regulated by the Railroad Commission, which has 100 years of experience in management and stewardship of many of Texas’ natural resources.
The resolution is to be sent to Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, as well as House and Senate leaders of both major parties.
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