It could soon be faster to build carbon storage wells for carbon capture projects in Texas. The state’s oil regulator – the Railroad Commission (RRC), took a major step toward gaining an oversight of the permitting for carbon capture and storage wells which means the approval process for such projects would be speeded up.
If the Railroad Commission is granted what is called primacy by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it would mean operators only need to apply to the Commission for permits instead of to both agencies.
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According to the Railroad Commission, this will speed up the permitting process, which sometimes takes years.
The Commission’s application will go to a public comment period before the EPA makes its decision.
According to critics, the Railroad Commission is the wrong agency to regulate carbon capture projects because of the commissioners’ close ties to the oil and gas industry.
“The railroad commissioners are on the record either deriding federal climate standards or saying they don’t believe in human-induced climate change,” said Virginia Palacios, executive director of a group called Commission Shift, working to reform the RRC.
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She also claims that railroad commissioners should be disqualified “from overseeing such a complex and significant technology.”
Commission Shift announced it will be joining more than a dozen other Texas-based groups in asking the EPA to continue overseeing carbon capture projects instead of turning that power solely over to the Railroad Commission.