The short answer is, yes, oil and gas production in Texas is regulated – primarily by the Texas Railroad Commission (RRC), but also in tandem by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), which monitors air quality, surface water management and water quality, and waste management.
Because this is a widespread industry throughout the state, there is a vast amount of legislation and permitting that is required to be followed.
Here are a few of the latest proposed and passed oil and gas regulations in the state, including Oil and Gas Wastewater Discharge permitting, a Find It and Fix It Initiative, Bulk Crude Oil Storage guidance, and Sour Gas Handling Compliance.
In 2019, Texas House Bill 2771 was proposed, which could potentially give the TCEQ authority from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate produced water, hydrostatic water, and oil and gas discharges emitted into water within the state. This would transfer power from the RRC of Texas to TCEQ.
These discharges are usually a result of either crude oil and natural gas exploration, development, or production statewide.
The Find It and Fix It Initiative was implemented by the TCEQ’s Office of Compliance and Enforcement, which was effective through Jan. 31, 2021, but could continue to be enforced and investigated in the future. Business owners in the industry throughout the 61 counties of the Permian Basin who participate in the initiative and are compliant with Texas air quality regulations will be considered for enforcement discretion.
The initiative was created after it was reported that there was a substantial increase in emissions events (EE) from oil and gas facilities in the area.
Because there were so many confusions during the COVID-19 pandemic about the regulation requirements (permitting, spills) of the temporary storage tanks of excess crude oil in aboveground storage tanks, TCEQ put together a guideline to explain the complexities of it all during this time.
Note that the TCEQ regulates permitting, reporting, and spill requirements, and this guide goes over the oversight of storage tanks in Texas.
There are several permitting options for oil and gas sites that handle or produce sour gas, which depends on the concentration level of hydrogen sulfide.
As oil and gas wells age, hydrogen sulfide levels may increase, which causes the gas to sour. Gas companies and owners are encouraged to monitor H2S concentrations to ensure the gas is below the 24 ppm (parts per million) maximum. The RRC’s statewide Rule 36 has additional requirements for concentrations greater than 100 ppm.
The state of Texas is constantly updating regulations to protect the state’s land, water, and air from oil and gas emissions, which includes permits, registrations, licensing, and reporting. For updates or questions, visit https://www.tceq.texas.gov/ or speak with a Houston explosion accident attorney at The Doan Law Firm.