July 17, 2023

Castro, Doggett Urge EPA to Reject Texas Railroad Commission’s Application for Primacy of Class VI Carbon Dioxide Sequestration Wells

In letter, members cite concerns about The Texas Railroad Commission’s subpar enforcement of environmental protections and disregard for marginalized communities.

WASHINGTON – Representatives Joaquin Castro (TX-20) and Lloyd Doggett (TX-37) are urging the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reject the Texas Railroad Commission’s application for primacy enforcement of the Class VI Underground Injection Control (UIC) well program under the Safe Water Drinking Act. In a letter sent Friday, Castro and Doggett asked the EPA to, at minimum, pause the Commission’s application and conduct a thorough investigation into its permitting and oversight of oil and gas operations for adherence to the EPA’s guidance and environmental justice standards.

“The Commission has a history of waiving its own rules and regulations to favor oil and gas companies over health and environmental protection standards. Commissioners have waived requirements for oil and gas companies to plug their abandoned wells, pushed back deadlines for companies to clean up surrounding environments, and increased the number of sites available for crude oil storage. Additionally, the Commission’s lax attitude toward enforcement is facilitated by its frequent omission of measurable standards from many of its rules.  The Commission’s apparent willingness to alter its application’s rules for additional enforcement authority is no indication that the Commission will meaningfully enforce those rules,” members wrote in the letter.

“The Railroad Commission of Texas can't be trusted to uphold the standards that protect health and safety in communities with carbon capture infrastructure," said Rep. Castro. "Moreover, Texas regulators are unwilling to meet their existing obligations to plug abandoned oil wells. The EPA must not give the Commission more oversight over carbon storage wells and related infrastructure, which are disproportionately located in communities of color already exposed to dangerous levels of pollution."

“Our call is for taxpayer protection, as well as environmental protection,” said Rep. Doggett. “Enforcement of the highest standards is required to ensure that billions of federal subsidies permanently and safely reduce emissions, rather than merely serving as another massive hand out to the fossil fuel industry. This application should not be railroaded, especially when the Texas Railroad Commission has such a notorious reputation for neglect and indifference.”

Read the full letter here.