Environmental and Energy Law Blog

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The Texas Environmental, Health, and Safety Audit Privilege Act (Act) was originally enacted in 1995.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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Monday, May 28, 2018

Surface and Mineral Estates in Texas

One’s rights regarding oil and gas exploration in Texas are primarily dictated by two distinct sets of property rights—the surface estate and the mineral estate. While these two estates are often owned by the same person in the case of a single piece of property, it is common in many areas of Texas for a mineral estate and surface estate to be owned by different people. This severance of the mineral estate and surface estate occurs when a property owner sells the surface and keeps the minerals. However, if a property owner fails to explicitly limit the transfer of ownership to the surface estate or retain the minerals when selling the surface, then the mineral estate will automatically be included in the sale.

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Monday, May 21, 2018

Oil and Gas Law Basics

Oil and gas laws in the United States address issues involving the acquisition and ownership of oil and gas. These laws commonly affect those who lease the rights to drill for and produce these substances. Below is an overview of some of the legal issues affecting the acquisition and ownership of oil and gas in the United States.

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Thursday, April 26, 2018

Oil Prices Continue to Advance

This blog recently reported how the Texas oil and gas economy continues to thrive, buoyed by increased production and favorable pricing. Presently, crude oil prices are at the highest level since late 2014. Analysts attribute the price increase to declining US crude inventories and OPEC attempts to push prices higher through production cutbacks. While there is some debate as to whether prices will continue on this trajectory, navigating such market fluctuations requires the advice and counsel of requires the advice and counsel of an experienced energy sector attorney.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Texas Oil and Gas Economy on the Rise

As oil and gas producers maximize the benefits of advanced drilling techniques such as hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) and horizontal drilling and take advantage of favorable pricing, the oil and gas economy in Texas is making impressive gains, driven largely by upstream production. While this presents opportunities to producers and investors alike, successfully navigating the current economic landscape often requires the advice and guidance of an experienced energy industry attorney.

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