Discharges associated with oil and gas activities, pipelines, and natural gas processing plants, will no longer fall under Railroad Commission of Texas (“RRC”) jurisdiction. Effective January 15, 2021, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“US EPA”) announced that the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (“TCEQ”) will be the permitting authority going forward as part of the Clean Water Act.
In October 2020, the TCEQ requested regulatory authority from the EPA to issue one consolidated permit under the Texas Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (“TPDES”) program to meet federal and state requirements to protect aquatic life, human health, and the environment.
The TCEQ currently has two (2) permitting options available for regulated operators – one general permit to discharge hydrostatic test water and an individual permit application option. Two (2) additional general permits to authorize discharges from certain oil and gas facilities are expected to be available through the TCEQ later this summer. Oil and gas facilities that do not qualify for coverage under the available general permits will be required to obtain a site-specific individual permit. Facilities currently authorized by the EPA under a general permit may continue operating under the current EPA permit until TCEQ’s general permits are issued. Existing individual permit holders will need to submit a permit application to TCEQ prior to the expiration date of the current permit from either the EPA, or the RRC, whichever permit expires first.
Regulations for oil and gas discharges will remain the same as current federal standards. EPA rules in 40 Code of Federal Regulations (“CFR”) Part 435 currently establish technology-based effluent limit guidelines for oil and gas wastewater discharges. TCEQ adopted by rule EPA’s effluent guideline plan in 40 CFR Part 435 in May 2020.
Spirit’s compliance experts have extensive experience with water quality permitting authorizations through both the TCEQ and the RRC, and we are ready to help you assess the best permitting options for your operations! Contact Michele, Alex, or Chase with your questions or to get started!