How is gas well drilling and production regulated in Texas?

In May 2015, the state approved House Bill 40 providing the state with exclusive jurisdiction over gas well drilling and production activities, expressly pre-empting municipalities from regulating such activities, except for a few certain aspects of aboveground activity. The State provided limited regulation to local governments to regulate aboveground activity related to an oil and gas operation or that which occurs at or above the surface of the ground, including fire and emergency response, traffic, lights, noise, notice, reasonable setback requirements, and other aboveground activities, such as inspecting for air and water emissions; however, any irregularities in emissions are reported to the appropriate agency.

In addition, under HB 40, local government regulations must meet all of the following four factors:

  1. Are limited to regulating aboveground activity related to an oil and gas operation (as noted above)
  2. Must be commercially reasonable
  3. Do not effectively prohibit an oil and gas operation conducted by a reasonably prudent operator
  4. Are not otherwise preempted by state or federal law

The two main state agencies regulating gas well production and drilling are:

  • The Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC) for regulating almost all aspects of oil and gas development in Texas, including processes from well drilling to well plugging. The RRC maintains records of operating companies as well as their mineral leases, wells, and production levels. Regional offices for the RRC conduct periodic inspections of well sites and can issues violations for improper equipment operation.
  • The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) is the governmental agency tasked with monitoring and permitting oil- and gas-drilling operations emissions. The TCEQ developed an interactive map to show the location and results of air sampling and also created a site with updates about the Barnett Shale area and related news items.

Show All Answers

1. Can someone else own the minerals underneath my property? How can I tell if I own my minerals?
2. Does the City offer assistance or advice to property owners regarding mineral leases?
3. How can I find out if a natural gas well permit has been obtained near my property?
4. How can I register a complaint or contact an inspector?
5. How is gas well drilling and production regulated in Texas?
6. What role does the City of Denton have in gas well permitting and regulation?
7. What are the stormwater requirements for gas wells?
8. How many wells are located in Denton?
9. How long is the gas well active or producing?
10. What is the oil and gas drilling disclaimer?
11. What can I expect when a company is going perform activities in my area?
12. What can I expect when a company is going to drill in my area?
13. What emergency plans are in place in case of an accident?
14. What happens to the well after production?
15. What is a blow out and what is a blow out preventer (BOP)?
16. What is a mineral lease?
17. How is natural gas transported?
18. What is fracturing or completing with hydraulic horsepower?
19. What is seismic exploration, and what will I notice when it is performed?
20. What is the Barnett Shale?