Commissioner David Porter Launches Initiative to Modernize Commission Flaring Rules

05/23/2012

AUSTIN - Railroad Commissioner David Porter, the state’s senior energy regulator, along with the Eagle Ford Task Force he chairs, has been studying and evaluating common-sense solutions to reduce flaring and venting associated with oil and gas production.

“Technical and engineering innovations have positioned Texas as the nation’s top natural gas-producing state and largest natural gas employer, with nearly 1.3 million direct and indirect jobs. In fiscal year 2011, oil and gas contributed about 10 percent of all revenue in the state’s general fund,” said Porter. “This is great news, but we must address flaring that is associated with the rapid industry expansion. I have traveled the state extensively and seen first-hand that activity is outstripping capacity and awaiting pipeline infrastructure.”

Commissioner Porter’s initiative includes the following:

  • Ensuring operators fully comply with current Commission flaring and venting rules;
  • Amending Commission flaring and venting rules to comport with the increased production of the shale plays across the state, just as we are similarly amending water recycling rules;
  • Reviewing flaring technologies to encourage the use of efficient, environmentally protective and energy-saving flares;
  • Working in partnership with all other state regulatory entities to streamline air emission rules, monitoring and reporting;
  • Working in partnership with Texas electrical energy regulators to identify opportunities for using excess gas as a strategic source of power generation, especially with the threat of weather-induced power curtailment; and
  • Studying a pilot program to use gas as a source of power for on-lease operations in lieu of flaring the gas.

Representative Jim Keffer, Chairman of the House Energy Resources committee, indicated his appreciation for the initiative. “I look forward to working with Commissioner Porter and examining these issues during the next legislative session,” said Keffer.

Trey Scott, an Eagle Ford Task Force member representing land owner and royalty owner interests, applauded Commissioner Porter’s initiative. “I commend Commissioner Porter for his leadership to modernize the current flaring rules to ensure that oil and gas activities do not negatively impact the environment or public safety,” said Scott.

“We must proactively address flaring with fair, predictable, common-sense regulations based on science and fact. If we don’t, we can expect the anti-fossil fuel folks including the EPA to once again attempt to curtail oil and gas production in our state by using politically motivated rulemakings to implement their political agenda – not what is best for the people of Texas,” opined Porter.

“The Permian Basin Petroleum Association endorses Commissioner Porter’s initiative, and we pledge our full cooperation to identify reasonable solutions as the necessary infrastructure is being built,” added Doug Robison, chairman of the Permian Basin Petroleum Association.

Thure Cannon, Executive Director of the Texas Pipeline Association, said, “The pipeline industry is building pipelines at a record pace. Ordering steel and constructing pipelines unfortunately takes longer than drilling the well. Our industry will continue to work hard to catch up with the bevy of new production. We fully support and appreciate Commissioner Porter’s initiative on this issue and look forward to working with all parties involved.”

“I look forward to working with the oil and gas industry, fellow state agencies and legislators, and the public to ensure that responsible development and public safety remain our chief goal while recognizing that energy is the economic driver of our state,” concluded Porter. 

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David J. Porter was elected to the Texas Railroad Commission on November 2, 2010. A Certified Public Accountant and successful small business owner, Commissioner Porter has worked with oil and gas producers for nearly three decades providing strategic financial advice and tax counsel. He has a long record of pro-business, free market, conservative credentials.