A new report by the environmental advocacy group Earthworks accused Texas regulators of failing to respond adequately to complaints about oil and gas companies. The investigation, entitled “Loud and Clear: Public Complains Reveal Lack of Oil and Gas Pollution Oversight,” focuses on the emission of methane and other harmful substances into the atmosphere.
According to the report’s authors, the belief that regulators are adequately resourced and willing to hold energy firms to account is misplaced.
“Currently, state regulatory and enforcement agencies are inconsistent and insufficient in how they respond to the public,” noted the report. According to the document, these agencies concentrate on issuing permits as quickly as possible and can’t carry out their role effectively due to understaffing.
Earthworks based its findings on an initiative carried out in Texas between 2015 and 2020 called the Community Empowerment Project. Using optical gas imaging (OGI), the group identified leaks and emissions by oil and gas companies and encouraged residents to file complaints with the Texas Commission for Environmental Quality (TCEQ).
In total, Earthworks documented over 140 emissions violations since 2015. However, the TCEQ only took enforcement action in 17 of these cases.