Environmental Groups Ask the Texas Railroad Commission to Stop Harmful Gas Flaring and Venting in Oil Field Sites Across Texas
(Austin) The Texas Railroad Commission prepares to make a decision on Tuesday, February 5 in the debate regarding restriction of production at oil drilling sites across the state where operators practice gas flaring and venting. In advance of the hearing, environmental groups signed and delivered an open letter to the Railroad Commission.
Read the text of the letter with the list of signatories siting concerns about:
· Waste of natural resources;
· Public health harm and risk; and,
· Climate change impacts.
“The pollution emitted by gas flaring and the less visible but even more harmful practice of venting is making Texans across the state chronically ill and even more vulnerable to life-threatening diseases such as in the current COVID crisis,” said Robin Schneider, Executive Director of the Texas Campaign for the Environment. “With the massive glut in the market, there is absolutely no need for the drilling waste and it is unconscionable to continue putting Texans’ health at risk by continuing to give flaring waivers and pushing climate change disaster. The environmental community is united in asking the Railroad Commission to follow historic precedent and put an end to gas flaring and venting in Texas now.”
On April 21, the Commission established a Blue-Ribbon Task Force made of oil and gas companies and their lobby organizations.The Commission failed to announce non-industry stakeholders as part of the Task Force for example the signatories of today’s open letter, among them Schneider’s group Texas Campaign for the Environment, other statewide environmental organizations such as Sierra Club and Environment Texas, and regional groups such as Big Bend Conservation Alliance and Save RGV (Rio Grande Valley), among others.
“The Railroad Commission has an opportunity to protect the environment, dark skies, and health of the residents of West Texas by stopping the harmful and wasteful practice of flaring,” said James Newsom, Executive Director of Big Bend Conservation Alliance. “Flaring has greatly impacted the environment, dark skies, and health of West Texas residents - we have suffered enough. The Railroad Commission can fix the mess they created by pressing the reset button on flaring.”
The letter brought out the particular impacts that Permian Basin waste, flaring and venting has on climate change emissions.
“Permian Basin gas waste is more than the annual consumption of natural gas by each of the following countries: Denmark, Greece, Hong Kong, or Switzerland. Imagine pissing away the natural gas consumed by an entire small country!” said Bill Berg, Associate Director, Save RGV (Rio Grande Valley). “The result of that waste and methane emissions is acceleration of the climate change to climate catastrophe. And it is being done by the State of Texas, where the Railroad Commission has so far been responsible for approving this disaster. If this were a science fiction movie the Commission could be a co-conspirator with the Evil Empire, approving damaging an atmosphere so that the population would be so distracted by dealing with floods and forest fires and pandemics that they could not defend their planet against invasion. This is not science fiction, do not help make it reality. Do the right thing, Railroad Commission.”
The groups’ open letter asks the Railroad Commissioners to "…take strong action this week and, in the future, to limit production, especially focused on the bad practice of flaring and to establish a process for changing your policy and rules related to flaring, venting and gas capture over limits. We also urge you to reject all flaring waivers on this week’s agenda."