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State's delegation reassures KIOGA

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Tuesday, August 17, 2010, at 12:05 a.m.

It has been a year of political storms for the oil and gas industry, and Kansas producers are anxious that they not get swamped by government reaction.

But most of the provisions they feared appear to have blown over for now, said Sens. Sam Brownback and Pat Roberts, and Reps. Todd Tiahrt and Lynn Jenkins, who spoke Monday at the Kansas Independent Oil and Gas Association convention at Hilton Wichita Airport.

Local producers have worried that the Obama administration would reduce a host of tax breaks that encourage drilling and push for a broad measure to cut greenhouse gases. They also are concerned that the Environmental Protection Agency will tighten regulation of the hydraulic fracturing techniques that have greatly increased oil and gas flows in older wells.

Those worries were warranted six months ago, Brownback said.

But growing resistance by Republicans and a few Democrats forced U.S. Senate leaders late last month to abandon a wide-ranging bill to cap carbon emissions and set up a market to buy and sell carbon credits. Such a broad bill likely would include all kinds of provisions harmful to Kansas's oil and gas producers, he said.

"The sea change has really moved against the Obama administration," Brownback said. "This massive growth of the federal government and this Europeanization of the U.S. political system — the American public has said 'No, we don't want it.' "

Democratic leaders have said they still want narrowly focused bills addressing the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and energy efficiency measures.

Republicans stand to gain seats in Congress in the November mid-term elections, possibly taking control of the House of Representatives, they said. But there will be a lame-duck session immediately following the election, and they warned that anything could happen in that time.

"They see it slipping away if they don't do something," Jenkins said. "I know Nancy Pelosi has been trying very hard to get something up and going."

On hydraulic fracturing, Jenkins said researchers will complete a study on the practice by 2012. She said she hopes the EPA will rely on science in making its decision.

Reach Dan Voorhis at 316-268-6577 or dvoorhis@wichitaeagle.com.

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