Railroad commission implies all operators are in compliance

It has now been almost three years since the Texas Legislature passed H. B. 2259.

You might recall this was landmark legislation that passed with the promise it would greatly increase the financial accountability of oil and gas operators and expedite the removal of junk equipment associated with the non-producing wells. Following its passage in May of 2009, the Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC) adopted corresponding rules that operators who don't comply with the new requirements may have their operating permits (P-5s) revoked. At the time, the Texas Land and Mineral Owners Association (TLMA) applauded the efforts of the Legislature and the TTC. It appeared a new dawn had arrived.

Well then last session, many in the oil and gas industry complained they were in danger of losing their permits for simple paperwork violations-not what the statute intended. TLMA worked with industry and the Legislature to establish a reasonable appeal and hearing process so operators would not be inadvertently punished when they were in compliance with the law.

Fast forward today. In an effort to find out how well the statute was working, TLMA sent a letter to the Railroad Commission asking how many P-5 permits had been revoked as a result of HNB 2259 and its corresponding legislation.

Guess what the answer was? ZERO That's right, not a single P-5 renewal has been denied. There have been plenty of violators of the statute-the RRC response to our initial letter said that there were 1,370 in fiscal year 2011 alone-but apparently no one is being punished for their violations. WHERE ARE THE TEETH?