that film or videotape releases are not uncommon. Most of them, however, go into the trash can. KVUE-TV of Austin did show the interview with Finney on the 6 o’clock news, but anchorman Richard Goodman identified the film as a release from the Conservation Committee for Unitization, making the origin of the film a part of the station’s unitization reportage. Information about the cost of the unitization campaign and the origin of the funds is hard to come by. Representative Finney told the Observer that he received no remuneration for doing the Conservation Committee film. Hoglund, questioned by Sen. Peyton McKnight in a Senate hearing, said only that the money for the unitization effort came from members of the Conservation Committee. He said he had no idea how much the Committee has spent on its lobbying effort. It’s safe to assume that it’s a bundle. Despite the well-organized lobbying effort, unitization still has some strong opponents. Senator McKnight, an independent producer from Tyler, is one of the strongest. McKnight this year was one of ten independents named to the “All American Wildcatters,” the wildcatter’s Hall of Fame, for his “ethical conduct” and contribution to new oil production. McKnight knows the oil business from the inside and he’s dead set against a compulsory unitization bill. He calls it an Exxon bill. Still, 12 of the 31 Texas senators cosigned Hightower’s bill. The signers are a varied group, including liberals Chet Brooks, Bob Gammage and Jim Wallace from Houston, D. Roy Harrington of Port Arthur, a member of the Oil, Chemical & Atomic Workers, Ron Clower of Garland, and Glenn Kothmann of San Antonio; Republicans Walter Mengden of Houston and Betty Adnjuar of Fort Worth. Other co-sponsors are Grant Jones of Abilene, Nelson Wolff of San Antonio, Jack Ogg of Houston and John Traeger of Seguin. Land Commissioner Bob Armstrong says that unitization is a sound practice, but he wants state lands excluded from the bill, just like they’re excluded from the pooling bill. Armstrong speaks for both the School Land Board and the UT Board for Lease. \(The UT regents voted, unanimously no less, to ask that the school’s lands be exempted from the bill. The fact that the motion for exclusion was made by former Gov. Allan Shivers is evidence enough that the state’s position should not be The land commissioner explains his position this way: “The opponents say, `Well, what’s good for Aunt Susie as a little 20-acre royalty owner ought to be good for the State of Texas.’ My position is that there are some other reasons involved. One is that we have traditionally made separate rules for the state in the public interest. “I would say that probably ten of the people in the General Land Office are charged with the responsibility of Rep. Dave Finney overseeing something in the neighborhood of 15 million acres,” Armstrong told the Observer. “If you took the state lands separately, they would comprise the fourth largest oil producing state after the private lands of Texas, Louisiana and Wyoming. . . . We have a proprietary interest in this land. What happens to the ground water? What is the pollution aspect? What does it do to the land itself? The only thing that I’ve contended is that in the public interest it’s better to have two looks at a unitization proposal one look by the Railroad Commission, one by the Land Commission,” Armstrong explained. IN PRESENTING his position at legislative hearings, Armstrong has been careful not to criticize the Railroad Commission, but he is as familiar as any official in the state with the Commission’s shoddy record concerning the environment. According to the RR Commission’s own records, ,25,000 barrels of oil, more than twice the amount leaked in the Santa Barbara spill, were lost in Texas waters from 1965 to 1970. The Commission filed nary a lawsuit against polluters during that period. The land commissioner said he has been vigorously lobbied by the oil industry, by Exxon, even by George Brown, the grand old man of Brown & Root, to support the unitization bill as written. “Some people are white hot on the subject,” he said. The day of the Senate hearing he received a call from an oilman trying to get him to change his position on the bill. He refused. Armstrong recounts that the caller said, “I think I can get them to pull the bill down and you’re going to get credit for killing the unit bill at a time when we need oil and gas, Armstrong. And you’re going to answer for it at the polls.” Armstrong has offered an amendment that would require the approval of both the RR and Land Commissions for the state to be included in a unit. The House subcommittee rejected the amendment but Armstrong says he will try to convince the full committee to adopt it. Judging by past experience, oil producers have good reason to want the state included in compulsory unitization. Armstrong’s predecessor, Jerry Sadler, tended to be arbitrary in his dealings with oil companies. Sometimes he would ask for exorbitant payments for the state’s cooperation in a unit. The operator paid up or he didn’t get to form his unit. Then again, there are operators who don’t want anyone to be forced into a unit. Referring to the land commissioner’s position, Stanley Woods of Houston told Senators, “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.” Woods, a former liberal Democratic candidate for governor, insisted that unitization “is an attempt by a few international oil and gas corporations to take over the operation of approximately 800 oil and gas fields in Texas, all to the damage of small landowners, royalty owners, small independent oil and gas men and to all taxing authorities of the State of Texas.” Woods charged that the bill does not specify that it applies only to secondary recovery. If unitization were applied to primary production, “it would be the death knell of future exploration in the state,” Woods said. March 30, 1973 7
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