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Texas Regulators Set Oil, Gas Division Priorities for FY2019

The Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC), which oversees oil and natural gas activity, tasked with developing an annual plan to assess how best to use its resources, on Tuesday unveiled its priorities to monitor and enforce energy activities across the state during fiscal year (FY) 2019.

The Texas Legislature last year tasked the commission with providing a yearly update on how best to ensure public safety and minimize damage to the environment. The first iteration of the Annual Oil and Gas Division Monitoring and Enforcement Plan would serve as the benchmark based on existing data from FY2012-2017.

The draft plan, open for public comment through April 20, confirms current priorities of the oil and gas division and establishes the “direction for data collection, stakeholder input and new priorities.”

Commissioners set two goals for FY2019:

  1. Accurately demonstrate oil and gas monitoring and enforcement activities; and
  2. Strategically use resources to ensure public safety and protect the environment.

To achieve the first goal, the RRC has updated its working definition of the term “major violation.”

While “the basic concept of a major violation has not changed,” the RRC has provided additional examples for use by staff to determine if a violation is “major.” Technical staff in district offices are responsible for identifying and documenting any major violations in the process of reviewing every inspection report.

Enhancements would “provide more consistency in the tracking and communication of major violations,” the commission said.

To use resources “strategically,” the RRC plans to make enhancements to inspection, compliance/enforcement data, as well as make the information more readily available to the agency, industry and public.

“Searchable public access to data, such as violations or final orders, will be provided to support agency data transparency goals,” the RRC said.

Comments may be submitted online after a survey is completed. Alternatively, written comments may be sent to Oil and Gas Strategic Plan Comments/Oil and Gas Division, RRC, P.O. Box 12967, Austin, TX 78711-2967.

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