Megan Mason Dister
In French v. Alaska Oil & Gas Conservation Commission, 498 P.3d 1026 (Alaska 2021), the supreme court held that the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (AOGCC) has jurisdiction over determining if a gas leak is waste and the AOGCC’s hearings must be supported by substantial evidence. (Id. at 1028). French petitioned the AOGCC for a hearing over a complaint of waste from a leaking gas line. (Id. at 1027). The AOGCC stated that it had already investigated the leak and found it was not waste because the gas line “had been ‘metered and severed from the property.’” (Id.). The AOGCC determined because the leak was not waste it, had no jurisdiction, and there could be no hearing. (Id.). The superior court affirmed. (Id.). The supreme court reversed, reasoning the AOGCC’s mission dictates its “jurisdiction over ‘all persons and property, public and private, necessary to’ investigate and identify oil and gas waste.” (Id. at 1028 (citing Alaska Stat.§ 31.05.030(a)) (2021))). The AOGCC cannot subvert the requirement under Alaska Statutes section 31.05.060(a) for hearings through conducting private investigations over whether a leak counts as waste. (Id.). Additionally, even if the AOGCC previously investigated a leak, its finding must be supported by substantial evidence, and here the administrative record contained no evidence. (Id.). Reversing the lower court’s decision, the supreme court held that the AOGCC has jurisdiction over determining if a gas leak is waste and the AOGCC’s hearings must be supported by substantial evidence. (Id.).