By Mitchell Ferman
July 17, 2023
Two Texas Congressmen are urging the Environmental Protection Agency to reject their state’s effort to oversee underground carbon storage and are calling for an investigation, arguing local regulators can’t be trusted to protect the public.
The EPA currently regulates underground carbon storage across most of the country except in North Dakota and Wyoming, which have been approved to oversee their own efforts. The EPA has minimal staff to regulate subsurface carbon storage, and companies are increasingly interested in capturing carbon and storing it underground due largely to economic incentives from the Inflation Reduction Act.
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Texas Democratic US Reps. Joaquin Castro and Lloyd Doggett said in a letter Monday to EPA boss Michael Regan they are concerned over their state’s enforcers, the Texas Railroad Commission, which is in charge of regulating oil, gas and related activities. They want federal regulators to investigate Texas’ permitting and enforcement of subsurface injections to ensure it adheres to environmental justice standards.
“The Railroad Commission of Texas can’t be trusted to uphold the standards that protect health and safety in communities with carbon capture infrastructure,” Castro said in a statement. “Moreover, Texas regulators are unwilling to meet their existing obligations to plug abandoned oil wells. The EPA must not give the commission more oversight over carbon storage wells and related infrastructure, which are disproportionately located in communities of color already exposed to dangerous levels of pollution.”
Commission officials could not immediately be reached for comment.