Texas Railroad Commission Promises to Address Flaring Even as it Exempts 30 Active Flares

EDF statement from Colin Leyden, Director, Regulatory and Legislative Affairs

August 3, 2020
Stacy MacDiarmid, (512) 658-2265, smacdiarmid@edf.org

(AUSTIN, TX) In an online hearing tomorrow, the Texas Railroad Commission (RRC) will consider changes to flaring data collection and flaring exceptions. At the same time the commission plans to vote and approve operator petitions for long-term exemptions — wells that have already been flaring for at least 180 days. Since the beginning of the shale boom in Texas, the RRC has never denied a permit to flare and continually issued bulk flaring exemptions at commission hearings.

“The commission itself has said they want to reduce flaring; industry, investors and mineral rights owners have called for less flaring. And yet tomorrow the commission will issue 30 new long-term exemptions to allow more flaring. The commission needs a strong goal, defined interim targets, and a robust commitment to data with accountability to bring routine flaring to an end.”

  • Colin Leyden, Director, Regulatory and Legislative Affairs


Operators in Texas have sent a trillion cubic feet of natural gas up in smoke since 2013, enough to meet the yearly needs of every home in Texas three times over.

Recent data collected in the Permian basin found 11% of flares surveyed were either malfunctioning — only partially burning the gas — and 5% were completely unlit, venting uncombusted methane straight into the atmosphere. Although the pandemic and economic crisis slowed down flaring this spring, emerging satellite data is showing flaring is on the rebound, with June volume up 50% from May.

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