Paxton moves to block federal crackdown on natural gas storage sites

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton says the Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration is unlawfully seeking authority over facilities already regulated by Texas. (Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via AP)

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is going to court to fight a new federal regulation requiring stricter safety standards on underground natural gas storage facilities.

In a petition filed in the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Friday, Paxton argues the Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration is unlawfully seeking authority over facilities already regulated by Texas and other states.

“My office does not tolerate government overreach, and will not allow a rule as arbitrary and capricious as this to stand,” Paxton said in a statement.

In December former U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced he was enacting tougher regulations on natural gas storage facilities – based on the American Petroleum Institute’s own voluntary guidelines – to provide “minimum federal standard for inspection, enforcement, and training.”

The crackdown followed a much publicized leak at California’s Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility in 2015, resulting in the release of 4.6 billion cubic feet of natural gas.

Texas has more than 30 underground natural gas storage facilities, according to the attorney general’s office. Those facilities are regulated by the Texas Railroad Commission.

SHOW MORE