Environmental and Energy Law Blog

Saturday, November 10, 2018

What is the Railroad Commission of Texas?


The Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC) is the Texas state agency that regulates the following areas:

  • The gas and oil industry
  • Safety in the liquefied petroleum gas industry
  • Gas utilities
  • Pipeline safety
  • Surface coal and uranium mining.

Despite its name, however, the RRC ceased regulating railroads in 2005. Established in 1891, the RRC is the oldest regulatory agency in the state of Texas, and it focuses entirely on gas, oil, propane, mining, and pipelines. The RRC’s stated mission is to serve Texas through:

  • Stewardship of the environment and natural resources,
  • Concern for the community and personal safety, and
  • Support of economic vitality and enhanced development for the benefit of Texans.

Oil and gas regulation

As noted above, the RRC regulates the production, exploration, and transportation of gas and oil in Texas.


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Friday, October 26, 2018

The ABCs of Seismic Surveys: Part Two

Seismic surveys are used to produce images of rock types and their locations beneath the ground. These surveys are utilized by oil and gas companies to determine the location and size of gas and oil reservoirs. The process, which involves bouncing and recording sound waves off of underground rock formations, provides surveyors with valuable information about rock types and the availability of fluids and gases underground.


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Tuesday, October 23, 2018

The ABCs of Seismic Surveys: Part One

Seismic surveys are used to produce images of rock types and their locations beneath the ground. These surveys are utilized by oil and gas companies to determine the location and size of gas and oil reservoirs. The process, which involves bouncing and recording sound waves off of underground rock formations, provides surveyors with valuable information about rock types and the availability of fluids and gases underground. In this two-part series, we examine seismic surveys in detail.


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Tuesday, September 18, 2018

How to Choose an Energy, Oil, and Gas Attorney in Texas

If you live in Texas and are considering signing any type of energy, oil, or gas agreement, then you should hire an experienced Texas attorney for legal guidance. However, with so many attorneys to choose from, it can be difficult to determine who to choose. Below are some guidelines on choosing an energy, oil, and gas attorney in Texas.


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Tuesday, September 11, 2018

What You Need to Know about Environmental Audits

Environmental audits allow companies to identify, assess, and fix problems before it’s too late. In addition, in many cases, federal and state laws can be used to shield companies from penalties assessed for violations discovered during voluntary audits. However, there are a few things that you should consider before undertaking an environmental audit in Texas, including:


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Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Permit by Rule Authorizations and New Source Review Permits in Texas

Anyone who wishes to construct or modify a facility that emits air contaminants into the atmosphere must obtain authorization from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). TCEQ’s Office of Compliance and Enforcement is responsible for the enforcement of compliance with all environmental regulations and laws in Texas. In addition, since TCEQ has the authority to administer the Federal Clean Air Act requirements for Texas, it is also the primary enforcement agency for certain federal permits. Authorization from TCEQ comes in several forms, and the timeline for obtaining authorization can range from a few days to several years. Two such forms of authorization are:


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Thursday, August 16, 2018

What is the Texas Environmental, Health, and Safety Audit Privilege Act?

The Texas Environmental, Health, and Safety Audit Privilege Act (Act) was originally enacted in 1995. The purpose of the Act is the encouragement of voluntary compliance with environmental, health, and safety regulations. In addition, the Act incentivizes voluntary audits by facilities. Under the Act, facilities that voluntarily conduct audits are immune from civil and administrative penalties for violations that are uncovered and disclosed as a result of the voluntary audit. The Act also provides privilege for reports submitted in accordance with its requirements.


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Thursday, July 26, 2018

Can Corporate Officers be Held Personally Liability for Environmental Violations in Texas?

The Texas Supreme Court recently overturned an Austin Court of Appeals decision which held that a corporate officer could not be held personally liable for environmental violations unless certain conditions were present. Below is an overview of this decision and its implications on corporate officers in Texas.


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Thursday, July 19, 2018

What is the Texas Oilfield Anti-Indemnity Act?

Oil drilling operations can expose operators to liability for a number of issues, including personal injury, property damage, pollution, and other damages. One way in which parties mitigate these risks is the inclusion of an indemnity clause in their drilling contracts. An indemnity clause is a contractual transfer of risk between parties to either prevent loss or compensate for a loss which might occur due to a specified event. In Texas, such clauses are limited by a law called the Texas Oilfield Anti-Indemnity Act. Below is an overview of the Act.


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Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Seismic and Technical Data Licensing Agreements in Texas

Seismic surveys are used to produce detailed images of different rock types and their locations beneath the surface. These types of surveys are typically used by oil and gas companies to determine the location and size of oil and gas reservoirs. The process involves bouncing and recording sound waves off of underground rock formations. By analyzing the time that the waves take to return to the surface, surveyors are able to glean valuable information about rock types and the availability of gases or fluids underground. Below is an overview of the agreements used to facilitate this process in Texas.


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Friday, June 15, 2018

Texas Oil and Gas Drilling Surface Use Agreements

In Texas, mineral estates are dominant over surface estates. Therefore, the owner of a mineral estate can freely use the surface estate for the exploration, development, and production of the gas and oil beneath the property. This right to use the surface estate may be exercised by a lessee who has taken a mineral lease from the mineral estate's actual owner. And because a lessee may use the surface without restoring it or paying for non-negligent damage, surface owners often acquire what is known as a surface use agreement that restricts the use of the surface or establishes damages. Below is an overview of surface use agreements in Texas.


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