AUSTIN -- The Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC) met to discuss possible action on flaring this morning, after receiving a letter from 15 members of the Texas legislature urging regulators to eliminate the routine flaring of natural gas by 2025. The Commission did not heed the recommendations in the letter, delaying a final decision by announcing a staff proposal to increase the information used to make decisions on flaring permits.
"Calling for more information is like asking for a new arrangement of deck chairs on the titanic. More information is never a bad thing, but we already know the ship is sinking. Without a strong target to end routine flaring, we cannot protect our state from the devastating effects of climate change," said Emma Pabst, global warming solutions advocate with Environment Texas Research and Policy Center.
Staff’s proposed changes include improving data collection for flaring and venting, reducing the duration of some administrative flaring permits, and incentivizing operators to voluntarily deploy flare reduction technologies that will reduce flaring.
These changes could help reduce air pollution, but since last winter, oil and gas field inspections have revealed that nearly a quarter of the 1,934 inspections of flare vent facilities were in violation of the Commission's already lax standards. The Commision also approved 27 new permits to flare.
None of the Commission’s proposed changes address the “one trillion cubic feet of natural gas” the legislators condemn in their letter. They called on the Commission to “ better protect our health and environment, steer the industry toward more responsible management of our resources, and remind the world once again of Texas’ energy leadership.”
The proposal will now be open for a 30 day comment period.
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.