The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local and State News

March 15, 2013

State attorney general talks on federalism, death penalty

(Continued)

ENID, Okla. — Energy and the EPA

Pruitt addressed concerns among some attendees Friday the EPA could begin regulating hydraulic fracturing in the oil and gas industry.

He said the states have “been in the driver’s seat” and have been regulating hydraulic fracturing for more than six decades.

“Now, you have the EPA in Washington, D.C., studying whether they should insert themselves into the process of hydraulic fracturing,” Pruitt said. “We have resources like the Corporation Commission that have been responsible for regulating that activity for years. We’ve been doing it and doing it well, and we have primacy.

“Think about the economic impact that will have, to get the ... federal government on top of the state regulations.”

Pruitt said the United States has the capacity to become energy independent within the next 10 years, “and the only thing standing in the way is regulations and barriers from government out of Washington, D.C.”

Banking regulations

Pruitt reviewed Friday his office’s efforts to stem implementation of Dodd-Frank.

Last September Pruitt joined, along with several other attorneys general, a lawsuit originally filed by the National Bank of Big Spring (Texas) in June 2012.

That lawsuit, which is pending, challenges the authority of federal regulators to close and liquidate financial institutions with little notice to the bank’s investors.

“Dodd-Frank gives regulators unprecedented and unchecked authority to make significant decisions that affect Oklahoma families and businesses with little, if any, meaningful ability for our state pensions and community banks to recover,” Pruitt said in a September 2012 press release after joining the lawsuit. “We must challenge Dodd-Frank to protect Oklahoma taxpayers and our financial stability. The law puts at risk the pension contributions and tax dollars that the people have entrusted us to protect.”

“Our ability to grow the economy in Oklahoma is going to be affected because of laws like Dodd-Frank,” Pruitt said.

He said the centralization of banking authority in the federal government, through Dodd-Frank and other laws, has led to a reduction in community banks, taking capital further away from small businesses.

Pruitt said there once were more than 12,000 community banks in the nation — a number that has been cut to about 7,000 and is predicted to shrink to 2,000.

Pruitt said between 60 and 70 percent of all banking capital in the U.S. now is held in about 20 banks, “and that’s dangerous.”

Fraud

Pruitt’s comments on fraud centered on the state’s workers’ compensation system, and possible reforms coming in this legislative session.

He said fraud “is real, and it is substantial in the workers’ compensation system.”

Pruitt said he’s hopeful legislative reforms will make the workers’ compensation system more of an administrative process, and less of a judicial process.

“Lawyers and doctors should not be the focus of the workers’ compensation system,” Pruitt said, “and today, they are.”

Pruitt said his office has increased prosecution of all types of fraud by 62 percent since he took office.

“We’ve gone after all types of fraud,” Pruitt said. “We’re sending a message that you can’t take advantage of employers and taxpayers in the system, and if you do, you’re going to be held accountable.”

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