Wednesday, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality finally approved new air emission regulations on permit-by-rules and standard permits for oil and gas facilities. That’s good news because the rules will mean new facilities will need to actually assess their air emissions, do some monitoring and follow best management practices and get this — even HAVE to register their information with our regulatory authority. Again, the new rules are much better than existing law, which is basically nonexistent on air emissions.
But here’s the bad news — after receiving untold pressure from the industry, they not only carved out an exemption for “Smaller” facilities, they decided to only apply the new rules in the Barnett-Shale, larger Dallas – Fort Worth area. While the Barnett-Shale in Texas is where development is still growing — and the area where air emissions have already impacted both the health of people but also impacted the area’s ability to come into compliance with ozone standards — it is not the only place where air emissions are important.
So the rest of the state – South Texas’s Eagleford shale play, North Texas’s Woodford Shale Play, etc — gets nothing for now. TCEQ Commissioners did instruct staff to begin working on a new rule package for the rest of the state..soon.
Keep in mind that the rest of the state is developing rapidly. According to Texas Monthly Oil and Gas Statistics, the top ten gas counties include not only some West and Dallas-area counties like Tarrant, Denton and Freestone, but also south Texas counties like Zapata and Webb.. But apparently those people are not yet important enough to protect with the new rules…
Here’s an article in Fort Worth on the new rules adopted by the TCEQ
Cyrus Reed, Conservation Director, Lone Star Chapter, Sierra Club