Brilliant orange flare over dark blue sky near Midland, TX

Ban Flaring

Goal: To end the practice of methane flaring on Texas’ oil and gas wells.

We all know someone affected by asthma, respiratory disease, or cancer: pollution can kill. Yet, every day, methane flares in Texas’ Permian Basin emit as much life-threatening pollution as 3 coal-fired power plants. Since 2013, oil producers have sent over 1 trillion cubic feet of fracked gas up in flames -- fouling the blue skies over Texas, wasting a finite resource, and emitting millions of tons of heat-trapping pollution. We’re calling on the Railroad Commission of Texas to keep our communities safe by ending flaring operations across our state.

  • <h4>METHANE FLARES IN TEXAS</h4><h5>emitted over 13 million metric tons of global warming pollution in 2019 -- the carbon equivalent of 3.5 coal-powered power plants in a year.</h5><em>Shutterstock</em>
  • <h4>CRITICISM OF FLARING</h4><h5>is on the rise. In 2019, the CEO of Pioneer Natural Resources, an oil and gas company headquartered in Texas,called it a “black eye” for the Permian Basin, and even Railroad Commission has begun to acknowledge the dangers.</h5><em>Staff Photo/Anna Farrell-Sherman</em>
  • <h4>PARTICULATE MATTER</h4><h5>released by flares is associated with health issues including asthma, cancer, and birth defects.</h5><em>Flickr/WildEarth Guardians</em>
Flaring: a hidden cause of climate change

Scientists warn with increasing urgency that absent drastic cuts to carbon emissions, our planet will face serious consequences including rising temperatures, sea-levels, and increases in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events. States across the county have heeded this warning and begun cutting emissions, but due to Texas' fracking boom in the Permian Basin, our states' greenhouse gas emissions continue to climb.

The most carbon-intensive part of oil production is flaring: the unnecessary practice of burning off excess natural gas while extracting oil. When companies flare, they burn fossil fuels and pump greenhouse gasses into our planet’s atmosphere simply because they don’t want to spend the money to capture and transport the methane gas, which is less lucrative than oil. 

The Railroad Commission of Texas could stop flaring

Flaring is usually forbidden under Texas law. But unfortunately, Texas’ oil and gas regulator, the Railroad Commission of Texas, has granted over 27,000 permits allowing it to happen anyways. Despite the agency’s legal obligation to prevent industry from wasting our state’s natural resources, the Commission has not denied a single permit to flare since 2012. As the country’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, Texas can put a stop to massive amounts of carbon pollution - but only if we take big action, now. 

With companies, investors, and even industry spokespeople speaking out about flaring, it’s clear that the pressure is building. Last year, a pipeline company sued the Commission for allowing a company to flare methane gas despite an existing pipeline connection to get the gas to market. Ears started to perk up, investors started to ask questions, and to date, three major Texas oil companies -- BP, Shell, and ConocoPhillips -- have already made commitments to end routine flaring.

We shouldn’t have to count on corporations to do the Railroad Commission’s job, though, which is why we’re urging the Railroad Commission of Texas to end routine flaring by 2025. From Commissioner Christian’s accusatory statements about investors and environmentalists, to the Commission’s recent adoption of a lackluster flaring proposal, it’s clear that the pressure is getting to them, which means that right now, we have an opportunity to end flaring in Texas.

Sign the Petition: End Flaring by 2025

Environment Texas is petitioning the Railroad Commission to end routine flaring by 2025.