There are comprehensive regulations governing Texas oil and gas exploration and production. State agencies have been delegated authority to enforce federal programs and Texas laws establish additional requirements to protect the environment and public health. Within local municipalities there are often additional regulations that dictate site location, well design, well spacing, operational limitations, noise levels, water management, waste handling and disposal, air emissions, surface water protection and storm water controls, groundwater protection, site safety, and other measures to ensure public health and safety. Local ordinances may also address permit fees and assurance of operators’ financial responsibility.
TheRailroad Commission of Texas (RRC) and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) are the two state agencies with most of the responsiblity for establishing standards and enforcing regulations for oil and gas exploration and production. The RRC oversees all aspects of the drilling activity such as well spacing, well design, groundwater protection during drilling and operational and public safety. TCEQ’s primary role during oil and gas exploration and drilling relates to control of air emissions, required depth of each well’s steel casing and cement, and ensuring that off-site impacts, if any, are consistent with standards developed to protect public health and safety.
The RRC, the TCEQ, the General Land Office, The Texas Department of Transportation and several federal agencies regulate oil and gas pipelines in Texas. Regulation of intrastate pipeline safety is the responsibility of the RRC. For interstate pipelines, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Administration (PHMSA), a division of the United States Department of Transportation, over sees pipeline safety regulation. TCEQ regulates air emissions associated with pipeline operations.
The Oil Conservation Division regulates oil, gas and geothermal activity in New Mexico. We gather well production data, permit new wells, enforce the division’s rules and the state’s oil and gas statutes, make certain abandoned wells are properly plugged, and ensure the land is responsibly restored.