About the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (AOGCC)
Mission: “To protect the public interest in exploration and development of oil and gas resources, ensuring conservation practices, and increasing ultimate recovery, while protecting health, safety, the environment, and property rights” (AOGCC, n.d., ¶1).
“AOGCC functions include maximizing oil and gas recovery, minimizing waste, approving oil pool development rules, and maintaining state production records” (Palin, 2009, p. 94)
“The commission also lends a hand in protecting the environment from contamination during drilling and also ensures environmental compliance in production, metering, and well abandonment activities, so federal agencies like the EPA as well as private interests and environmental groups have key interests in the commission’s activities” (Palin, 2009, p. 94).
Summary of Sarah Palin’s Accomplishments as Committee Chair
In her position as Chairman of the AOGCC, Sarah Palin worked diligently to correct a conflict of interest that existed with Randy Reudrich, the Commission’s Petroleum Engineer. Reudrich was the State Republican Party Chairman, and was a member of the Republican National Committee. Reudrich simultaneously was a general manager Doyon Drilling and the key fund-raiser for the GOP. He solicited party dollars from the oil and gas companies the Commission was supposed to be regulating (Palin, 2009, pp. 94-95).
Ethics Issues with Randy Reudrich
- Reudrich used the AOGCC office to run the GOP (Palin, 2009, p. 96).
- Reudrich’s employer, Doyon “pled guilty to federal felony charges for environmental crimes on the North Slope”. (Palin, 2009, p. 95). Reudrich testified in July 1995 before a US Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which was chaired by then Senator Frank Murkowski that disposing drilling waste back down wells improved environmental safety. Doyon; however, was adding hazardous waste to the drilling spoils to save money. BP was also involved with this. Doyon paid a $1 million fine, and BP $500,000 (Palin, 2009, p. 95).
- Reudrich adjudicated two cases closely involved with his old illegal dumping case (Palin, 2009, p. 96).
- Reudrich shared confidential information with a coal bed methane company the Commission was supposed to be regulating (Palin, 2009, p. 96).
- Chairman Palin spoke with Reudrich personally on a number of occasions.
- Chairman Palin pursued Reudrich’s conflict of interest issue within the Commission’s chain of command.
- Sarah Palin resigned so that she could speak publicly about the issue. In her Chair position, Gov. Palin was legally bound to silence on the matter. The gag-order persisted for several months post-resignation.
(Palin, 2009, pp. 96-98).
Personal Consequences Suffered
- Gov. Palin by her actions angered both the GOP (“talking ill of a fellow Republican” and “jumping on board with the Democrats”) and the Democrats (who accused her of “covering up for the GOP”).
- Sacrificed a high-paying job that she also loved.
(Palin, 2009, p. 98).
- Reudrich the subject of a 16-page ethics complaint, “agreed to pay the highest civil fine in Alaska history.” (Palin, 2009, p. 99).
- Sarah Palin earned the respect of lawmakers from both parties, as they got to know and respect her, because she unearthed the truth.
Kaylene Johnson’s Sarah: How a Hockey Mom Turned the Political Establishment Upside Down, Chapter 6 is devoted entirely to Gov. Palin’s chairmanship of the AOGCC.
Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. (n.d.) State of Alaska Department of Administration. Retrieved June 28, 2010 from: http://doa.alaska.gov/ogc/
Johnson, K. (2008). Sarah: How a Hockey Mom Turned the Political Establishment Upside Down. (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House).
Palin, S. L. H. (2009). Going Rogue: An American Life. (New York: Harper). pp. 94-99.