New State Budget Helps the RRC Continue its Important Work Protecting Texans and the EnvironmentJune 20, 2023
AUSTIN – The state budget bill passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor on Sunday enhances the Railroad Commission’s work in regulating the oil and gas industry and serving Texans.
The bill provides the agency with approximately $481 million for the next two fiscal years.
The RRC regulates the major components of the state’s energy industry including oil and gas; surface mining of coal and uranium; the alternative fuels of LNG, CNG, and LPG; intrastate pipelines and natural gas utilities.
The energy industry is vital to Texas’ economic prosperity and the Legislature’s funding allows the RRC to continue its work in permitting, compliance and enforcement. The RRC consistently meets or exceeds important annual performance goals set by the Legislature that is tied to the agency’s funding.
The budget includes new funding to enhance the RRC’s work serving in public safety and environmental protection. Highlights include:
- Hiring up to 50 new pipeline safety professionals to enhance inspections of thousands of more miles of pipelines in Texas. A new federal law this year provides oversight of additional gathering lines to the RRC. Gathering lines are pipelines that are used to transport oil or natural gas from the production site to a central location. The number of RRC regulated gathering lines has now increased more than seven times to about 45,000 miles.
- Funding for new staff in the Oil and Gas Environmental Permits and Support Unit. The RRC has seen a significant workload increase over the last year following the enactment of legislation that encourages the recycling of fluid waste for beneficial purposes. Fluid oil and gas waste is waste containing salt, brine, hydraulic fracturing fluid, or other fluids that are the result of drilling for oil or gas. The additional staff would also assist in an anticipated increase in carbon capture permitting applications if the EPA grants the RRC primacy to oversee carbon capture applications.
- Funding for additional FLIR cameras will increase inspection capabilities in districts. The cameras have been used by the Commission for more than 10 years to detect emissions from wells and other oil and gas facilities during inspections.
- Digitization of records funding will help the agency continue its bold transparency initiatives with historical documents at the agency. The RRC was budgeted $1.9 million to create online access to millions more archived documents. Approximately 5 million documents from district offices throughout the state will be imaged so that the public can access the documents online without needing to travel.
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/.