Vote Yes for HB 896 and 897

The Texas legislature has an opportunity to take action to reduce dangerous methane flairng with HB 896 and HB 897, two bills which will reduce pollution from oil and gas operations and clean up our air. Our Clean Air Associate Catherine Fraser testified in support.

This is testimony we submitted in favor of HB 896 and HB 897, both authored by state Rep. Ron Reynolds. The two bills are set for a hearing in the House Environmental Regulation Committee on Monday, April 19 at 2 pm.

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My name is Catherine Fraser and I’m with Environment Texas, a nonprofit advocate for clean air, clean water, clean energy, and open spaces. I am submitting testimony today in support of HB 896 and HB 897, two bills which will reduce pollution from oil and gas operations and clean up our air.

From Hurricane Harvey to Winter Storm Uri, the dangers of global warming-fueled extreme weather are clear. It’s critical we reduce greenhouse gas emissions, particularly from flaring and venting, in order to stave off the worst impacts of climate change.

In Texas, oil and gas operators are flaring and venting dangerous air and climate-changing pollutants, including methane, at such high rates that Europe is refusing to import natural gas from the United States. Methane is released into the air when operators vent excess gas, and, according to international scientists, a ton of methane in the atmosphere is 86 times more intense in its impact on climate than carbon dioxide over its first 20 years in the atmosphere. In other words, over the short term, methane pollution is cooking our climate faster than carbon dioxide.

In addition to their climate impacts, a recent study found that pregnant women exposed to more than 10 nightly flares within three miles of their home had a higher risk of giving birth prematurely. 

We need to reign in unchecked pollution from oil and gas in Texas and dramatically decrease our methane and carbon emissions by putting an end to routine flaring and venting. Passing HB 896 and HB 897 would be a big step forward for achieving a cleaner Texas.

HB 896 would require the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to adopt new inspection and maintenance requirements for all existing and new oil and gas wells and associated equipment, leading to major reductions in venting, flaring and fugitive emissions of methane. 

Further, HB 897 would require the TCEQ and the Railroad Commission of Texas to work on a study looking at best practices to reduce emissions of methane and other pollutants by reviewing other state regulations, federal regulations and incentives, and reporting the study by January of 2021. With better practices and accountability, we can greatly reduce emissions in Texas and stave off the worst effects of global warming, which will bring increasingly severe droughts, wildfires, heatwaves, and storms to Texas. 

These two bills contain common-sense solutions to address what some have called “the black eye” of the Permian Basin. We urge you to vote for HB 896 and HB 897 for clean air and our climate.