The EPA has issued a report evaluating the Texas Railroad Commission’s regulation of injection wells: EPAreviewRRC The report criticizes the RRC in three areas, discussed below.
Injection wells, permitted by the RRC, are used to dispose of oilfield waste – produced water, frac water, and other fluids. These liquid wastes are injected into underground reservoirs determined to have no useable groundwater or producible hydrocarbons. Called Class II injection wells, Texas has more than 56,000 such wells – a third of all Class II injection wells in the U.S.
Injection of waste underground is governed by the Safe Drinking Water Act passed by Congress in 1974. That act allows states to take responsibility for permitting and regulation of injection wells if the state’s program meets the requirements of the SDW Act and the EPA. Texas has been regulating injection wells under authority delegated by the EPA since 1982. As part of that delegation, the EPA evaluates Texas’ performance each year and issues an annual report with its findings.
By and large, the EPA report finds that the RRC’s regulation of injection wells meets or exceeds the requirements of the Act. But the RRC is criticized in three respects. Continue reading →