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Commissioner Wright Statement on Flaring Exceptions

01/26/2021

AUSTIN – Railroad Commissioner Jim Wright released the following statement after today’s Open Meeting:

“During today’s RRC Commissioners’ Conference, I elected to pass on most of the requests for exceptions to Statewide Rule 32 governing flaring permits. Most items that dealt with flaring did not appear to have a clear and concise plan on natural gas utilization, and I wanted more time to review these requests and discuss them with Commission staff. I want to be clear that I do not take these requests lightly as flaring natural gas is a waste of our precious resources.

“My suggestion to staff going forward, in addition to the requirements for flaring permits, will be to ask two additional questions: The first question will be to require greater detail on the need to flare, and the second will be to inquire about the timeline for sufficient infrastructure to take away gas for market. These questions will help me ensure we are doing our best both economically and environmentally to utilize this resource and for the Commission to better understand production and processing hurdles.

“There were, however, a few flaring permit requests that I voted to approve. For example, those who have H2S issues or those who have concrete timelines to tie into a gathering system. It is my fear that until we have adjusted Commission rules for instances, such as H2S, excessive amounts of gas will be flared or might otherwise lead to harming human health. You can bet that this is something I will work to address immediately with our staff.

“Most do not realize the preparations for these permits by both the producers and the staff here at the Commission. My goal is not to burden the process further or apply the rule unevenly; however, we must as the regulating agency and as the industry do our utmost best to utilize our natural resources for energy production, especially in the wake of all the issues we saw in 2020.

“I know the importance of crude oil production for our dependency and economy, and my fellow commissioners understand this importance as well. Flaring must be allowed until we start to require proper connections before production. To that end, we must make it economically viable to do so by identifying and encouraging new markets for our clean burning natural gas. If not, our crude production will suffer, and we will become more and more dependent on foreign oil.

“My aim is to require any applicant who applies for authority to flare during my term, to show how and when their production of natural gas will be transported correctly for marketing. I am amenable to allowing fair time for flaring to occur in certain circumstances, but limits must be set.” 

 

Jim Wright was elected to the Railroad Commission of Texas in November 2020. He created a group of environmental services companies that work in the energy industry. He and his wife, Sherry, live in Orange Grove and have five children.