The Texas Senate has passed HB 2767, which is intended to encourage the recycling of wastewater from drilling and hydraulic fracturing operations for reuse rather than injection of the waste into disposal wells. The legislation aims to clear up legal ambiguities around responsibility for transferred drilling waste.

If signed by the governor, the legislation would add a chapter to the state’s Natural Resources Code stipulating that it is necessary to conserve water resources and reduce the amount of liquid waste from oil and natural gas drilling and well stimulation activities.

Under the legislation, the party in possession of the waste is responsible for it, and that responsibility is passed at the point of sale, when waste is handed off to a recycling facility operator, for instance. The bill was introduced by Republican state Rep. Phil King.

“The rapid growth of development in Texas’ shale deposits requires large quantities of water for drilling and hydro-fracturing operations that must be safely discharged or disposed of properly,” an analysis of the bill reads. “Under current practice, most oil and gas wastewater is disposed of in underground injection wells instead of being treated and reused in drilling and hydro-fracturing activity.”

Backers of the legislation have asserted that a lengthy permitting process for facilities to treat wastewater away from the drilling lease area, and legal ambiguity about the ownership and legal liability for transferred waste have been obstacles to more recycling of oil and gas waste.

The aim of HB 2767 is to cause more wastewater to be transferred to recyclers and sold back to operators for reuse rather than injected into disposal wells. The bill passed the House earlier this month (see Shale Daily, May 13).