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Regulatory Updates

TCEQ to Assume Oil and Gas Wastewater Permitting from RRC

Bruce Daniel, PE | January 11, 2021

The TCEQ received approval from the EPA on January 15, 2021 and is now accepting permit applications.

Historically, the Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC) has been responsible for wastewater permitting of upstream oil and gas facilities under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).  This has included such discharges as produced water, hydrostatic test water, and process wastewater from mid-stream units.  In 2019 the Texas Legislature passed House Bill (HB) 2771 which requires the TCEQ to submit a request to EPA for the authority to regulate wastewater discharges into water in the state from crude oil and natural gas exploration, development, or production.

Types of Permits Affected – In anticipation of EPA approval, the TCEQ has started work on several permits under the Texas Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (TPDES), including the following:
  • Hydrostatic Test General Permit TXG670000 – This permit has been developed for hydrostatic test water discharges from crude oil and natural gas exploration, development, and production operations. This will include pipelines and intermediate storage facilities covered under a RRC or EPA permit.
  • TPDES General Permit TXG310000 – This permit is currently under development to authorize discharges from onshore stripper wells, coastal facilities, and territorial seas facilities.  It will replace the current EPA General Permits TXG260000 and TXG330000.
  • Outer Continental General Permit WQG280000 – This permit is currently under development to authorize discharges to the Gulf of Mexico Outer Continental Shelf between 3 miles and 10.5 miles from shore. This will be in addition to the EPA’s General Permit GMG290000 as the EPA does not delegate the authority for this area.
  • Individual Permits – TCEQ is updating the TPDES Individual Permit application forms to include oil and gas discharges. Gas plants and produced water facilities that are located west of the 98th meridian will be subject to this permit.
When to Apply
For the Hydrostatic Test General Permit, upon approval of the TCEQ program, new and existing dischargers must apply for authorization, replacing the existing EPA and RRC permits.
For all other existing permits, continue to comply with the existing EPA and/or RRC permits until they expire and then apply for the new TCEQ permit before the earliest expiration date of either permit. The TCEQ permit will replace them both.
How to Get Assistance
TRC Environmental Corporation has extensive experience with TCEQ TPDES permitting, as well as EPA and RRC permitting. We are glad to provide any assistance throughout the permitting process. Please contact Bruce Daniel, PE at (713) 244-1090 or for further information.
In addition, the TCEQ has an Oil and Gas Compliance Assistance Website which can be utilized:  ( ).

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