Texas state Rep. Tank Parker (R-Flower Mound) has introduced companion bills that would make urban areas with significant oil and gas drilling a priority for inspections by the Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC) and double the potential monetary penalty for violations.

HB 2125 would require that the RRC “give priority to oil or gas wells that are located in a county…with a population of 650,000 or more and in which there are more than 2,000 producing oil or gas wells.”

Under HB 2126 operators with safety or pollution regulation violations would be subject to fines of up to $20,000 per day for each violation occurring in “an urban natural gas producing county.” The current penalty is up to $10,000 per day. Under the bill, penalty amounts above $10,000 “may be appropriated only to the commission to be used for activities and equipment related to the inspection of gas wells in urban natural gas producing counties.”

Parker’s district overlies the Barnett Shale and encompasses an area around Denton, TX, including Flower Mound to the south. The bills would be applicable to Tarrant and Denton counties. Both bills have been referred to the House Energy Resources Committee.

Flower Mound was recently selected by the Environmental Protection Agency as a potential site for the study of the effects of hydraulic fracturing (see Shale Daily, Feb. 22). The town also has been targeted for air monitoring to track emissions from Barnett Shale natural gas operations (see Shale Daily, Nov. 24, 2010).