AUSTIN -- Citing concerns about the waste of Texas’ natural resources, Railroad Commissioners Jim Wright and Wayne Christian today announced their support for measures to end or reduce routine flaring. The announcement, which comes on the heels of newly filed legislation in the state House and Senate to address routine flaring, was followed by a vote to remand 14 flaring exception applications; a move championed by Commissioner Wright, and supported by all three of the current Commissioners.
“It’s exciting to see Texas’ Railroad Commissioners stepping up to the plate on flaring,” said Emma Pabst, global warming solutions advocate with Environment Texas. “Although we might not agree with the Commission’s reasoning, which largely focused on the waste aspect of the problem but denied the environmental and climate implications of the practice, I’m glad that we can all agree on something. Texas is a big place, and to see the Commission support an end to routine flaring, a goal that environmentalists and public health advocates have been pushing for years, shows that they’re willing to compromise.”
Today, the Commission remanded 14 different flaring exception applications from companies such as SN Operating LLC, Ovintiv USA Inc., and Parallel Petroleum LLC, sending the applications back to agency staff for review. The Commission also approved 121 flaring exception applications from BP -- a topic which prompted initial pushback from newly elected Railroad Commissioner Jim Wright at the Commission’s January meeting.
In the last seven years, the Commission has granted operators more than 27,000 permits to flare - resulting in the burning of nearly 1 trillion cubic feet of gas and prompting concern from international stakeholders, legislators, and even investors. A September poll by Data for Progress found that Texas voters support flaring restrictions by a 21-point margin when provided with arguments for and against restrictions.
More information about flaring and venting is available in Environment Texas Research and Policy Center’s 2020 report “A Cleaner Path for Oil in Texas.”
Archives of the Commission’s meetings are available online, at https://www.rrc.state.tx.us/general-counsel/open-meetings/.
Environment Texas Research & Policy Center is dedicated to protecting our air, water and open spaces. We work to protect the places we love, advance the environmental values we share, and win real results for our environment. For more information, visit www.environmenttexascenter.org.