March was a busy month for both state and federal issues. I spent the first part of the month in Washington, D.C., as part of the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) call-up. The Permian Basin was very well represented this year with six PBPA representatives joining operators from around the country as we called on members of Congress.
The primary messages we attempted to deliver were to reject the Administration’s tax proposals to repeal the intangible drilling cost deductions and percentage depletion allowance, and that the best available science shows that the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard does not warrant an endangered finding.
Also last month, Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst sat down in Midland with several PBPA members and representatives of the Midland Odessa Transportation Alliance (MOTRAN) to discuss issues important to the region. Congressman Mike Conaway (R-Midland) and state representative Tryon Lewis (R-Odessa) were also in attendance. The primary concerns we discussed centered on the Endangered Species Act as well as Railroad Commission issues.
Senator Troy Fraser (R-Horseshoe Bay), Chair of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources, has appointed Senator Seliger (R-Amarillo) to lead a key subcommittee charged with monitoring the inclusion of the dunes sagebrush lizard on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service endangered species list and the negative implications of such actions on the oil and gas industry, and in turn, the Texas economy.
“This subcommittee will play an important role in both informing the public and affecting
a process that has very far-reaching implications on the oil and gas industry. I am honored to serve as its chair, and hope that the subcommittee can bring to light not only the irresponsible nature of listing the dunes sagebrush lizard, but also the unintended consequences of such rash federal decisions,” said Seliger.
Chairman Fraser also called on Senator Seliger to contribute to the Committee’s efforts todevelop sound and responsible groundwater management policies by serving on the subcommittee charged with making related recommendations to the 83rd Legislature.
In other news, Texas Railroad Commission Executive Director John Tintera announced his resignation effective April 1, ending 22 years of service at the commission. Commission Chairman Barry Smitherman and Commissioner David Porter immediately named Polly McDonald, former director of the commission’s pipeline safety division, as the new Interim Executive Director.
TCEQ commissioners unanimously appointed Zak Covar, a deputy executive director since August 2009, to take the helm at the agency. He will replace Mark Vickery, who is retiring from state government after 25 years of service.