Methane rules to hit “small, independent oil men,” Railroad Commissioner warns

David Porter, chairman of the Texas Railroad Commission, speaks Tuesday 11-10-2015 during the Executive Oil Conference at the Midland County Horseshoe Pavilion. Tim FischerReporter-Telegram
David Porter, chairman of the Texas Railroad Commission, speaks last year at an event in Midland. Tim FischerReporter-Telegram

WASHINGTON — Small oil and gas operators in Texas will be hit the hardest by new Environmental Protection Agency rules reining in methane emissions, Texas Railroad Commission Chairman David Porter testified to Congress Wednesday.

During an hour-long hearing examining the agency’s efforts to address climate change, Porter said his commission had urged EPA to exclude lower producing oil and gas wells. The cost of infrared cameras and other equipment and services to meet the methane rules might force them to shutdown.

“Their cost of compliance will be same as as a large[well with much greater emissions,” Porter said. “There will be significant economic impacts on energy production, on states like Texas and the small communities and small, independent oil men that form the backbone of rural Texas.”

The U.S. Energy Information Administration last month reported that the number of so-called stripper wells – wells that produce less than 15 barrels of crude a day – is shrinking and now only represent 10 percent of U.S. oil production.

Porter’s comments came during a charged hearing in the House Energy and Commerce Committee in which Republicans accused the EPA of threatening the nation’s economy and its energy supply with regulations they argued did little to reduce global carbon emissions.

“Do you have any idea how many pages of rules the EPA has issued… 33,481,” said Rep. Joe Barton, R-Ennis. “The EPA has impacted the economy by billions of dollars. You’ve killed the coal industry.”

At one point Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, told Janet McCabe, acting assistant administrator of EPA’s office of air and radiation, that her agency’s actions were “un-American,” drawing a sharp rebuke from Democrats that temporarily interrupted proceedings.

Asked during the hearing about the railroad commission’s dealings with the EPA, Porter said they had improved since he first took office in 2010

“In the last few years it has gotten more civil,” he said. “I’m not saying they listen to us but the lines of communication have become more open.”

SHOW MORE