With the price of oil hovering around $100 a barrel, Republican gubernatorial hopeful Dean Odle has a proposal to get Alabama more in the oil and gas game: Use the Tenth Amendment and the doctrine of nullification to eliminate federal barriers to expanding the state's energy production.
During an interview with Mobile radio FM Talk 106.5's "The Jeff Poor Show," Odle said he believed Alabama's Black Warrior River basin offered an untapped potential for the state.
According to Odle, the federal government does not have the authority under the Constitution to impose barriers on energy production and argued the existing restrictions were "unconstitutional."
"One thing is that we know -- geologists and everybody tells us that we're blessed, we have an abundance of oil and natural gas and a lot that we haven't even drilled for," Odle said. "We haven't even started. I don't believe we have even scratched the surface. And, of course, what gets in the way of some of that is federal regulations, the suspension of federal leases on federal land, federal laws. What most people don't realize, and I think sometimes even our previous governors and our current governor now don't realize, is that a lot of those federal regulations and laws pertaining to that stop us from being able to drill for our oil and natural gas -- those are unconstitutional."
"The federal government does not have that authority. That's something that we've really got to emphasize. What I'm talking about is the Tenth Amendment. For instance, the Tenth Amendment says this: 'The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.' So what that's saying is the federal government is only authorized to exercise those powers delegated to it."
Odle said that if it's not specifically in the Constitution as a power given to the federal government, then the state can nullify and ignore those laws and regulations. Odle said this applies to the energy sector, and the Black Warrior basin, a poor part of Alabama, can begin to prosper unbelievably.
Odle said he envisioned a scenario much like what's underway in Arkansas and believed it could be a way to finance infrastructure without levying tolls or increasing taxes.
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