The Railroad Commission of Texas met virtually on June 14 to host a public comment hearing on proposed amendments to Chapter 5, relating to Carbon Dioxide (CO2), and on the RRC’s application to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for enforcement primacy of the Class VI Underground Injection Control (UIC) Program. A link to the hearing and agenda can be found here.

This report is intended to give you an overview and highlight of the discussions on the various topics taken up. It is not a verbatim transcript of the discussions but is based upon what was audible or understandable to the observer and the desire to get details out as quickly as possible with few errors or omissions.


Item 1: Proposed amendments to Chapter 5, relating to Carbon Dioxide (CO2), and on the RRC’s application to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for enforcement primacy of the Class VI Underground Injection Control (UIC) Program.


Leslie Savage, RCC Staff

  • SB 1387 from the 81st Legislature requires state to pursue Class VI primacy but provided no deadline
  • Increased interest in carbon capture and storage
  • HB 1284 from the 87th Legislature provides RCC with jurisdiction over wells with geologic storage of CO2 regardless of its initial purpose, prohibits RCC to issue permits for previously closed wells and requires persons trying to get Class VI permit to obtain TCEQ letter of recommendation
  • Staff compared federal and state requirements necessary to obtain primacy
  • Proposed amendments:
    • Adds to definitions and clarifies what wells regulations apply to
    • Includes factors to analyze the potential impact on drinking water when transitioning wells from Class II and Class VI
    • Clarifies these regulations do not apply to injection of CO2 streams considered hazardous waste
    • Includes new language regarding permits; any interested person can request in writing a review of the permit
    • Requires operators of Class VI wells to submit information to EPA regardless of whether the state obtains primacy
    • GSDT tool for RCC
    • Requires applicant provide data and information in order to assess their post injection site care timeframe; may be lower than the federal 50-year default
    • Creates regulations consistent with federal requirements for signatories, public hearings, testing, and monitoring
    • Requires applicants to provide additional environmental justice information
  • RCC’s initial rules became effective 20 days before federal regulations; necessary to change them
  • Amendments published in the May 20, 2022 Texas Register
  • Published on RCC website on May 4
  • Comment period extended from June 20, 2022 to July 1, 2022


Dr. Tom Ortiz, Texas General Land Office

  • Geologic carbon sequestration is the birth of a new industry Texas can lead
  • Geologic carbon sequestration leads to new revenue, lower carbon future
  • Need to maximize the amount of carbon that can be stored for revenue purposes
  • CO2 will fill volume of storage space; need to control pressure and mass not volume of carbon storage
  • Rate of injection and surface injection pressure affect rock pathways
  • Injection rates affect storage capacity
  • Rate increase requests need to be scrutinized
  • Rise in pressure increases challenge of leak prevention
  • CO2 forms acid with water; class II well construction is risky for carbon storage
  • Conversion of wells must be made to Class VI
  • Need to create and maintain a new program for reservoir monitoring
  • Texas should not duplicate federal requirements, should go above and beyond


Virginia Palacios, Commission Shift

  • Commission Shift does not support preapplication for Class VI from EPA
  • Communities on the Gulf coast and Permian Basin face most of the risk and health impacts; Texas primacy may worsen
  • RCC oversight stagnated
  • Need transformative and innovative in regulation change
  • Recommends the RCC should not:
    • Consider anything less than the 50-year post injection site timeframe
    • Permit Class VI facilities to be granted plugging extensions
    • Allow the re-permitting of wells to Class VI without initial Class VI construction
    • Ignore seismic events caused by Class II wells in West Texas
    • Allow the director to modify permits without public comment
  • RCC proposes only 10 years of monitoring records must be maintained; leaks still occur after
  • RCC commissioners denied climate change and its link to the oil and gas industry
  • Little confidence that commissioners will prevent leaks and well failures


Cory Pomeroy, Texas Oil & Gas Association

  • Support for RCCs actions
  • As world energy demand increases, need both renewables and oil and gas
  • Energy production committed to lower carbon future
  • Carbon capture is the way forward to meet climate goals
  • To continue to attract businesses Texas needs to clean air
  • Will be submitting formal written comments by July 1


Leslie Savage, RRC Staff

  • Will consider oral and written comments equally
  • After adopting amendments, will request for letter to request primacy from Texas Attorney General and Governor