EPA probe of Texas oil wells could stymie carbon capture industry

By Shelby Webb | 06/24/2024 06:35 AM EDT

The agency is examining whether the state is adequately monitoring underground injection of carbon dioxide and wastewater.

A sign identifying EPA headquarters.

EPA headquarters. Francis Chung/E&E News

The EPA is launching a review into Texas’ oversight of wells for injecting gases and chemicals underground — a process that could thwart the state’s hopes to oversee long-term carbon sequestration and change how companies operate in the most productive oil fields in the country.

The review is in response to a petition from two nonprofits — EarthJustice and Commission Shift — that asked EPA to investigate how the state’s oil and gas regulator oversees Class II wells, where companies inject tons of wastewater, carbon dioxide and other gases and chemicals. Those wells in Texas have been linked to earthquakes that have rocked West Texas and have also been tied to sinkholes and explosions.

“Your petition raises substantial concerns regarding the sufficiency of Texas’ implementation of the (Underground Injection Control) Class II program that the EPA Region 6 will need to evaluate through extensive and thorough technical and legal review in order to evaluate the issues raised in your petition,” wrote Troy Hill, EPA’s Water Division director,  in a letter to EarthJustice.


The two groups put out a statement Friday on the letter, which was dated May 23.