State's oil, gas regulator quits after remark on Pavillion

Jun 15, 2012 Staff

The day before he was set to lead a discussion in Riverton, Wyoming's top oil and gas development regulator has resigned following a remark that greed and desire for compensation motivate people who assert that hydraulic fracturing has contaminated their groundwater near Pavillion.

In a statement released Thursday, Gov. Matt Mead announced the resignation of Tom Doll, supervisor of the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

Doll had been scheduled to address the Wyoming Legislature's Joint Minerals, Business and Economic Development Committee on Friday morning in Riverton to talk about hydraulic fracturing and the Pavillion groundwater issue.

Doll did not attend the meeting, prompting committee members to rearrange their agenda. State Sen. Eli Bebout, R-Riverton, who serves as the committee's co-chairman, commended Doll for his work.

"As far as other than what has been in the media, I thought he worked hard in the state. Pavillion is not an easy issue for anybody," Bebout said in an interview. "I'm sorry that we're losing a good man."

In his place on issues pertaining to hydraulic fracturing and Pavillion were Petroleum Association of Wyoming president Bruce Hinchey, Mead policy director Shawn Reese and Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality director John Corra.

Doll's comments delivered June 5 at a meeting of state oil and gas regulators in Vancouver, British Columbia, had to do with residents in an area several miles east of Pavillion.

"I really believe greed is driving a lot of this" and people around Pavillion are "just looking to be compensated," the energy news publication EnergyWire quoted Doll as saying.

Mead's administration distanced itself from the comments as inconsistent with the governor's views. Doll later apologized, saying the remarks were "inappropriate and inconsiderate."

The remarks drew condemnation from people in the Pavillion area.

The dustup happened while Mead and other state officials were visiting China. The governor returned this week and met with Doll in person on Wednesday, according to Mead spokesman Renny MacKay.

"They both agreed it was for the best," MacKay said.

MacKay declined to elaborate on whether Doll volunteered or was asked to quit. He said it wasn't clear if Doll's departure was effective immediately.

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