Texas Challenges Controversial Federal Methane Rule

March 08, 2024

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published the Methane Rule in the Federal Register today; and Texas is challenging this rule which is detrimental to an industry that is not only vital to the state’s economy but has also made great strides in emissions reduction.

RRC Commissioners voted in late January to refer the Methane Rule to the Office of the Attorney General to file a lawsuit against it; the Attorney General filed the lawsuit today.

The Commission has previously identified several concerns that were elaborated in comments it submitted in conjunction with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

Texas leads the nation as the highest producer of both oil and natural gas, bringing thousands of jobs and economic prosperity to our great state. Reducing the production of domestic oil and gas will only force the U.S. to usher in foreign imports of these essential resources – imports from countries that do not produce a level of cleaner energy that Texas has been able to.

The RRC has taken many measures in the past few years providing incentives for emission reduction technology. The RRC established a blue-ribbon taskforce to address flaring in the state. The Texas Methane & Flaring Coalition has noted that the Permian Basin in Texas reduced methane emissions by more than 76 percent from 2011 to 2021, while production increased more than 345 percent during the same time frame. Texas has also seen a steady decrease in gas flared; the amount of gas flared is now less than 1% of the amount of gas produced - one of the lowest rates in the country.

Technology and innovation work, not arbitrary and ill-advised regulation, is how emissions reduction can be achieved.

“Texas is taking action against the federal government’s egregious overreach,” said RRC Chairman Christi Craddick. “The latest attack on oil and gas is nothing more than an attempt to shut down the industry that creates hundreds of thousands of jobs, funds 1/3 of our state’s economy, and produces clean and reliable energy for the world. I appreciate the Office of the Attorney General for filing suit against the EPA’s methane rule and look forward to protecting our state’s jobs and economy by providing reasonable and consistent regulation to the oil and gas industry.”

"The real victim of President Biden’s methane rule isn’t Big Oil, it will be the small oil and gas producers, who do most of the nation’s oil exploration and produce more than 83% of oil and 90% of natural gas,” said RRC Commissioner Wayne Christian. “This methane rule will target 50% of U.S. marginal wells and likely 70% of Texas' marginal wells. Keeping these wells in production not only reduces waste and the state’s plugging liability but also provides funding for our schools, protects the stability of our electricity grid, and puts food on the table for thousands of Texans.”

“I applaud the Office of Attorney General for moving forward against the Biden Administration’s harmful methane rule,” said RRC Commissioner Jim Wright. “This rule is yet another attempt to harm domestic oil and gas production by forcing small, independent operators, who are the backbone of the industry and the communities they represent, out of business.” 

The RRC will continue to place the safety of Texans and the protection of the environment as its highest priority, while leading the country in vital oil and gas production.

A copy of the lawsuit filed by the Office of the Attorney General can be found here.

About the Railroad Commission:
Our mission is to serve Texas by our stewardship of natural resources and the environment, our concern for personal and community safety, and our support of enhanced development and economic vitality for the benefit of Texans. The Commission has a long and proud history of service to both Texas and to the nation, including almost 100 years regulating the oil and gas industry. The Commission also has jurisdiction over alternative fuels safety, natural gas utilities, surface mining and intrastate pipelines. Established in 1891, the Railroad Commission of Texas is the oldest regulatory agency in the state. To learn more, please visit https://www.rrc.texas.gov/about-us/.