What’s On Tap in Energy and Environment at the Texas Legislature This Week

Photo by Mose Buchele/StateImpact Texas

Check out our list of what to watch for on the issues of energy and environment at the Capitol this week.

We’ve compiled a list of several important meetings coming up this week at the state legislature that could have an impact on Texas’ energy and environment. Find out when the lege will tackle new bills that could affect everything from the concrete casing on oil wells to space flights near the beach:

Disposal Well Fee

Oil and gas drillers could soon face an additional fee for disposing drilling waste. A new bill, HB 379, by Rep. Lon Burnham, D-Fort Worth, would assess a one-cent fee for each barrel of waste disposed into commercial injection wells permitted by the Texas Railroad Commission. The money collected would go into the oil and gas regulation and cleanup fund. The House Energy Resources Committee will discuss the bill Wednesday afternoon.

Drilling Into the Saline Edwards Aquifer

There’s saltwater in parts of the Edwards Aquifer and a new bill by Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, D-Austin, could allow drillers to tap it. Parts of the saline aquifer sit beneath the Barton Springs-Edwards Aquifer Conservation District. The House Natural Resources Committee will discuss the merits of HB 340 on Tuesday morning.

Space Flight Beach Closure

Clear the beach for takeoff. A bill, HB 2623 by Rep. Rene Oliveira, D-Brownsville, would give  county officials the authority to temporarily close beaches near space flight launch sites on the Gulf Coast. The House Land and Resource Management Committee will discuss the bill Monday afternoon.

Groundwater Permits for Fracking

A new bill would allow groundwater conservation districts to require drillers to permit water wells for use in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which would give Groundwater Conservation Districts more information on how much water is being used and remove an exemption from permitting for drillers. The Senate Natural Resources Committee will discuss the bill, SB 873, by Sen. Glenn Hegar, R-Katy, at a meeting Tuesday morning, an attempt to clarify the state’s water code. An analysis of the bill says many groundwater districts already require drillers to permit their water wells.

Fixing Broken Wells

A new bill could shore up rules for fixing problematic oil and gas wells. The bill, SB 1249 by Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, would speed up the process for fixing broken, abandoned or faulty wells that could cause environmental or property damage. The Senate Natural Resources Committee will discuss the bill Tuesday morning.

Deer Breeding Permits

A new bill could provide Texas’ deer breeders with a little more certainty when applying for breeding permits. The bill, HB 1614 by Rep. Larry Phillips, R-Sherman, could clarify the permitting process and state more clearly who can be denied a deer breeding permit. You can check StateImpact Texas’ reporting on the companion bill in the Senate here. The House Culture, Recreation and Tourism Committee will discuss the bill Wednesday afternoon.

Transferring Water and Wastewater Regulation Between Texas Agencies

A voluminous new bill could require the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, TCEQ, to transfer a mass of water and wastewater regulation responsibility to the Public Utility Commission. The bill, SB 567 by Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin and Sen. Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville, was placed on the intent calendar for Tuesday, meaning it could be heard on the Senate floor that day.

David Barer is a reporting intern for StateImpact Texas.

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