Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Please Support Common Dreams This #GivingTuesday

Our staff has grown and our coverage of the climate emergency, COVID-19, and rising authoritarianism has intensified over the last two years. But, our expenses during the pandemic have gone up as well. This has been one of the toughest years we’ve ever faced. Donations are down. Traffic to the website from Google and Facebook have inexplicably fallen off a cliff. If we have any chance of meeting our fundraising targets for the year, we need this to be the best #GivingTuesday ever. Though our content is free to all, less than 1% of our readers ever make a donation. We're counting on you. Can you make that gift today to help Common Dreams end the year strong?

Please Help This #GivingTuesday -- Though our content is free to all, less than 1% of our readers give. We’re counting on you. Please help Common Dreams end the year strong.

For Immediate Release

Contact

Press Release

Report: 69-84% Of Texas Methane Flares Are Unpermitted

Largest oil state’s indifference to climate pollution threatens Biden climate goals.
WASHINGTON -

Released today by the environmental watchdog Earthworks and endorsed by Environment Texas and the Sierra Club Lone Star Chapter, Flaring in Texas: a comprehensive government failure -- What the Railroad Commission doesn’t track, it can’t govern, compares directly observed flares from oil and gas site flyovers against the state regulator’s flaring permitting database to determine that 69-84% of observed methane gas flares were unpermitted.

Earthworks cross referenced the Texas Railroad Commission (RRC, which governs the oil and gas industry, not railroads), Master Flaring and Venting Document with publicly available data from Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) flyovers conducted in January, March, June 2020 mainly in the RRC’s District 8 covering the Permian Basin.  The RRC reviewed the report before publication and their comments were incorporated.

“As the world’s climate scientists tell us we need to cut methane pollution to avoid climate catastrophe, Texas regulators can’t even be bothered to track methane flaring.” — report lead author and Earthworks’ Texas Field Analyst Jack McDonald

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently released a report -- the consensus of the world’s climate scientists -- alerting the world that unless we take immediate action to cut climate pollution, devoting a chapter to methane and similar super pollutants in particular -- we will not be able to avoid 1.5 degrees in global warming.

“To make good on his climate promises, President Biden must address the Permian climate bomb that’s exploding in Texas.” -- report co-author and Earthworks’ Senior Field Advocate Sharon Wilson

The Biden Environmental Protection Agency has announced that this fall it will propose stronger federal rules to cut methane pollution from oil and gas production. Under the Clean Air Act, enforcement of federal rules is delegated to the states, but that authority can be rescinded. In response to EPA’s announcement, Texas regulators that would enforce those rules sent a July 30 letter to EPA opposing them.

"For those who may not be familiar with the environmental and policy implications of flaring and venting, the new Earthworks report is a valuable overview of these issues. The report also makes a compelling case that many oil companies could be acting as better stewards of the environment, and that the Railroad Commission of Texas needs to exert stronger regulatory authority over them. The report is an important document that everyone should read." -- Vikki Goodwin, Texas State Representative, House District 47

Properly combusted flaring is responsible for .6% of all human-driven fossil fuel carbon dioxide emissions. Unlit and malfunctioning flares are more of a climate threat because they release methane — which is 86x more powerful a climate pollutant than carbon dioxide. Oil and gas production is the U.S. #1 industrial methane polluter.

"No state emits more toxic chemicals and methane from oil and gas than Texas and yet Texas regulators have turned a blind eye toward adopting new regulations and only enforce selectively. Unless we can change our captured state agencies we will have to rely on federal rulemaking and oversight, citizen suits and enforcement and reports like this one to shine a light on an out of control industry and a corrupt regulatory regime." -- Cyrus Reed, Conservation Director of the Sierra Club Lone Star Chapter

Flaring can result in health problems for people living in proximity because flares also release toxic volatile organic compounds like benzene. Pregnant women who live near flares have as much as 50% greater chance of premature birth. Living in proximity to flares is linked to eye, nose, and throat irritation, respiratory problems, nausea, headaches, and dizziness.

"Flaring is dirty and wasteful and most of the time it happens illegally. The Railroad Commission needs to stop turning a blind eye to this environmental disaster and put an end to flaring once and for all." -- Luke Metzger, Executive Director of Environment Texas

###

Earthworks is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting communities and the environment from the adverse impacts of mineral and energy development while promoting sustainable solutions.

WHO, South Africa Urge Nations to Lift 'Naive' Omicron Travel Bans

"The only thing the prohibition on travel will do is to further damage the economies of the affected countries and undermine their ability to respond to, and recover from, the pandemic."

Brett Wilkins ·


EU Joins Rights Group in Condemning Israel's 'Day of Destruction' of Palestinian Homes

"Demolitions are illegal under international law and significantly undermine the prospects for peace."

Brett Wilkins ·


GOP 'Silence Speaks Volumes,' Says Ilhan Omar as Boebert's Bigotry Goes Unpunished

"Normalizing this bigotry not only endangers my life but the lives of all Muslims. Anti-Muslim bigotry has no place in Congress."

Brett Wilkins ·


Africans Should Be 'Applauded, Not Punished,' Say Advocates Amid Omicron Travel Ban

"What is going on right now is inevitable," said African Union Vaccine Delivery Alliance co-chair Dr. Ayoade Alakija. "It's a result of the world's failure to vaccinate in an equitable, urgent, and speedy manner."

Brett Wilkins ·


Biden Drilling Report Blasted as 'Shocking Capitulation to the Needs of Corporate Polluters'

"Greenlighting more fossil fuel extraction, then pretending it's OK by nudging up royalty rates, is like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic," said one campaigner.

Jessica Corbett ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo