In 1939, the State Legislature enacted legislation on the regulation of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), commonly known as butane or propane. Because the Railroad Commission was the principal regulatory agency of the state and it carried responsibility for oil and gas production as well as gas utilities at the state level, it was given this new jurisdiction.
Increasingly in the 1940s, people in the rural areas of Texas were turning from wood and kerosene burning stoves over to the relatively new liquefied petroleum gas as fuel to cook and heat homes. While those living in the cities had access to piped natural gas, it was seldom economical for gas to be piped to rural areas. LPG in its tanks brought the benefits of gas in an economical and convenient manner.
By 1946, however, safety problems with the highly pressurized tanks had cause insurance rates to skyrocket. The LPG industry sought legislative action to protect the general public and to help reduce those rates. By 1951, the Texas Legislature recognized the need for safety regulation and passed a law establishing the Liquefied Petroleum Gas Division as a separate division of the Railroad Commission. Continually through the 1950s, the use of liquefied petroleum gas increased. In 1958 and 1959, the International Tractor Company promoted the use of LPG with farm equipment.
In 1983, authority over compressed natural gas (CNG) was given to the division. The "clean air" legislation passed by the 71st Texas Legislature requires certain vehicles to be capable of using compressed natural gas (CNG) or other alternate fuels, though primarily either CNG or LPG. The conversions of such vehicles to CNG or LPG are within the jurisdiction of the LP-Gas Division.
The Division issues licenses to companies in the LP-gas industry, approves equipment used to store LP-gas, and registers trucks and other vehicles that move LP-gas. Plans for proposed LP-gas installations at schools, convalescent homes, hospitals, bulk storage areas, cylinder-filling plants, service stations, and industrial plants must be approved by the division. Field personnel inspect LP-gas facilities in the state and investigate LP-gas accidents.
Division staff members hold seminars for and administer licensing tests to LP-gas dealers and their employees, and train fireman and law enforcement officers to deal with LP-gas accidents, particularly at an annual school held in conjunction with Texas A & M University.
Licenses are issued to companies in the CNG industry; and Commission CNG regulations cover installation, storage, and dispensing of CNG motor fuel for public and private vehicles.