Affirmative defense… of who?

April 16, 2021 • Jack McDonald
Each state implements environmental policy differently. Obviously, each state has different regulations that change the way oil and gas operators behave. A key way that state discretion over environmental policy shows up is the Clean Air Act’s  National Ambient Air… More »

Texas ‘Find It Fix It’ Initiative: The oil & gas polluter’s other get-out-of-jail-free card

March 27, 2021 • Jack McDonald
Yesterday, I outlined the Texas Audit Act and how it isn’t a replacement for real regulatory oversight in the state. Today, I am going to talk about the Find it Fix it initiative at the TCEQ. Yet another program that… More »

The Texas Audit Act is a get-of-jail-free card for oil & gas polluters

March 26, 2021 • Jack McDonald
The web of regulations that govern oil and gas operators can be complicated. One of the most complicated aspects of that regulatory apparatus is the Texas Environmental, Health, and Safety Audit Privilege Act (the Audit Act). This 1995 law was… More »

On flaring, the Texas Railroad Commission might be blowing smoke

February 1, 2021 • Jack McDonald
UPDATED FEB 4 Last week Earthworks published an analysis comparing Environmental Defense Fund flyovers of flares against the Texas Railroad Commission’s flaring permit database for those flares observed on Texas General Land Office lands. The results: 75% of observed flares… More »

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Flaring is (Still) Flamingly Stupid, but Unlit Flaring is Worse

January 25, 2021 • Jack McDonald
In May, Earthworks’ Senior Field Advocate, Sharon Wilson, wrote a blog post about the increasing prevalence of unlit flare stacks at oil and gas operations in the Permian Basin. Unlit and otherwise malfunctioning flares can release large volumes of pollution… More »

How Regulators & Regulations Fail: TCEQ Enforcement

January 14, 2021 • Jack McDonald
Yesterday, I explained some of the downfalls of the permitting process within the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), as illustrated by an operator that has been allowed to get away with constant pollution and skirting of the rules. While… More »

How Regulators & Regulations Fail: TCEQ Permitting

January 13, 2021 • Jack McDonald
On October 8th, Earthworks sent an open letter to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and Railroad Commission (RRC) outlining a history of misconduct at the MDC Pickpocket 21 drilling site. Earthworks’ certified optical gas imaging (OGI) thermographers had… More »

The Value of Human Life Must Have Priority in Oil & Gas Policies

September 8, 2020 • Jack McDonald
When Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick said “There are things more important than living“ about reopening businesses related to COVID-19, his comments quickly garnered national attention. Many people were shaken by the callous nature of the quote. However, Patrick was… More »