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As of April 3rd, 2017, over 400 amendments to SB 1 (the Appropriations Bill) have been filed. Photo (C) Robert Haney, Chief Clerk of the Texas House.

The Energy Resources Committee of the Texas House, chaired by Rep. Drew Darby (R–San Angelo), exercises jurisdiction over conservation of the energy resources of the State, as well as production, regulation, transportation and development of oil, gas and other energy resources, among numerous other responsibilities. The Committee is currently considering thirty-one (31) bills.  Foremost among them is HB 1818 (SB 300 its companion), engrossed March 29, 2017. HB 1818 extends the sunset provisions of the Texas Natural Resources Code (TXNRC) §81.01001(a) to September 1, 2029, effectively extending the life of the Railroad Commission until that time. The bill additionally provides for an Alternative Dispute Resolution Policy, and includes guidelines for the Commission’s development of a yearly Oil and Gas Division Monitoring Enforcement Strategic Plan, among other measures.

The remaining thirty-one (31) bills are still in committee. Ever popular, several seek to change the “confusing” name of the Texas Railroad Commission to the Texas Energy Resources Commission (HB 237 ), the Texas Energy Commission (HB 642), and the Texas Oil & Gas Commission (HB 4113)House Joint Resolution No. 47 proposes to place the fate of the name change to the Texas Energy Commission in the hands of Texas voters November 7, 2017. Would a rose by any other name smell as sweet?

TXNRC §91.502 requires certain information be included on royalty check stubs. HB 129  (Craddick, R–Midland) amends §91.506 – Exemption to relieve the payor of the information requirements of §91.502 provided he has obtained the royalty interest owner’s permission to do so.

Currently, an oil and gas operator may designate operations sites within each separate 80-acre tract contained within a 640-acre tract previously subdivided for commercial, industrial, or residential purposes (TXNRC §92.002, et seq). Proposed §92.002(5) in HB 1168 (Nevarez, D–Eagle Pass) extends the use of these “qualified subdivisions” to energy development resulting in the generation of electricity by a plant or industrial facility.

Tertiary recovery can involve the use of carbon dioxide, nitrogen miscible fluid displacement, or other substances and means to recover oil and natural gas from a near-depleted reservoir. HB 1597 (Bell R-Magnolia) adds Chapter 104 to Subtitle C, Title C of the TXNRC a/k/a the “Texas Tertiary Recovery Unitization Act”. The TTRUA only applies to unit operations for tertiary recovery of oil, gas, etc. from a Cenozoic Era common source of supply, and is not applicable to primary recovery, voluntary cooperative agreements in secondary recovery operations, or public lands. The procedure involves submitting a plan for Railroad Commission approval, demonstration of attempts to voluntarily unitize all interests in the unit area, and smells suspiciously of forced pooling.

Below is a list of the bills pending in Committee not discussed above. A full list of the bills in Committee can be found HERE.

HB 247 Author: Anchia (D – Dallas)
Last Action: 04/03/2017 H Left pending in committee
Re: Requires the Railroad Commission to post detailed information regarding enforcement of its regulations, including identity of the offender, the violation, penalty amounts, etc.

 

HB 891 Author: Raymond (D – Laredo)
Last Action: 02/23/2017 H Referred to Energy Resources: Feb 23 2017 4:07PM
Re: Creates a second-degree felony for the reckless possession, removal, delivery, etc. of oil, gas or condensate without the necessary Railroad Commission permit or authorization.

 

HB 1481 Author: Lozano (R – Kingsville)
Last Action: 04/10/2017 H Withdrawn from schedule
Re: Abolishes General Land Office’s fee for processing applications for terminal facility discharge prevention and response certificates.

 

HB 1493 Author: González, Mary (D – Clint)
Last Action: 03/07/2017 H Referred to Energy Resources: Mar 7 2017 3:59PM
Re: Requires at least one public hearing be held in the municipality prior to the construction of a pipeline therein.

 

HB 1519 Author: González, Mary (D – Clint)
Last Action: 03/20/2017 H Referred to Energy Resources: Mar 20 2017 3:24PM
Re: Requires a written environmental assessment be undertaken and submitted to the Railroad Commission prior to commencement of construction of a natural gas pipeline.

 

HB 1571 Author: Paddie (R – Marshall)
Last Action: 04/10/2017 H Withdrawn from schedule
Re: Changes the definition of “Energy Savings” in the context of local government energy savings performance contracts to include “an estimated amount of avoided expected future operating and maintenance costs.”

 

HB 1717 Author: Canales (D – Edinburg)
Last Action: 03/06/2017 H Referred to Energy Resources: Mar 6 2017 3:34PM
Re: Adds Chapter 212 – Wind Energy Conversion Systems and Facilities to the Texas Natural Resources Code. Chapter 212 gives landowners the right to access records held by the wind power generation company so as to verify royalty payments, requires wind power generation companies provide a bond/financial assurance to ensure decommissioning of their facilities, and provides for an administrative penalty to be set by the Railroad Commission. Chapter 212 only affects wind leases taken after February 1, 2018.

 

HB 1931 Author: Thierry (D – Houston)
Last Action: 04/10/2017 H Scheduled for public hearing
Re: Requires recipients of advanced clean energy project grants and loans to submit an annual plan that details how they have implemented diversity programs to increase procurements from historically underutilized businesses, among other measures.

 

HB 2488 Author: Lambert (R – Abilene), King, Phil (R – Weatherford)
Last Action: 04/10/2017 H Withdrawn from schedule
Re: Defines “Treatment” as the “manufacturing, mechanical, or chemical process other than sizing, shaping, diluting, or sorting” in regards to the treatment and recycling of drill cuttings.

 

HB 2588 Author: Clardy (R – Nacogdoches)
Last Action: 04/10/2017 H Withdrawn from schedule
Re: Allows the Railroad Commission to access criminal history records of job applicants and contractors, etc.

 

HB 2638 Author: Gonzales, Larry (R – Roundrock)
Last Action: 04/10/2017 H Withdrawn from schedule
Re: Allows the Railroad Commission to pursue and obtain patents, copyrights, and trademarks for intellectual property and governs the division of proceeds for lease, sale, etc. of such intellectual property.

 

HB 2688 Author: Bonnen, Greg (R – Friendswood)
Last Action: 03/23/2017 H Referred to Energy Resources: Mar 23 2017 11:29AM
Re: Adds language to the Natural Resources Code allowing for unitization for new or expanded enhanced recover projects of oil or gas from Cenozoic Age formations. See HB 1597 – Texas Tertiary Recovery Unitization Act.

 

HB 2713 Author: Alonzo (D – Dallas)
Last Action: 03/28/2017 H Referred to Energy Resources: Mar 28 2017 1:43PM
Re: Requires the Comptroller to conduct an audit of any unpaid oil or gas royalties held in trust by the Railroad Commission and to report the findings of the audit to the legislature no later than January 1, 2019.

 

HB 2715 Author: Darby (R – San Angelo)
Last Action: 04/10/2017 H Scheduled for public hearing on . . .
Re: Requires taxes and penalties assessed under Section 81.0531(3) of the Texas Natural Resources Code to be paid to the oil and gas regulation and cleanup fund, among other measures.

 

HB 2813 Author: Darby (R – San Angelo)
Last Action: 04/10/2017 H Scheduled for public hearing on . . .
Re: Abolishes “Transportation Reinvestment Zones” as included in Section 222.110 of the Transportation Code.

 

HB 2819 Author: Darby (R – San Angelo)
Last Action: 04/10/2017 H Scheduled for public hearing on . . .
Re: Establishes Advisory Committee for the TExNet Seismic Monitoring Program.

 

HB 2932 Author: Anchia (D – Dallas)
Last Action: 03/23/2017 H Referred to Energy Resources: Mar 23 2017 11:29AM
Re: Provides for a fine not to exceed $25,000.00 for violating certain statutes under the jurisdiction of, rules or orders adopted by, or licenses, permits, or certificates issued by the Railroad Commission of Texas.

 

HB 3162 Author: Bonnen, Greg (R – Friendswood)
Last Action: 03/30/2017 H Referred to Energy Resources: Mar 30 2017 1:18PM
Re: Adds additional information requirements for notices of excavations and outlines an excavator’s notice duties and emergency procedures in the event of an emergency.

Relating to the duty of an excavator to notify a notification center or to make a 9-1-1 emergency call in response to underground facility damage or an emergency.

 

HB 3211 Author: Paddie (R – Marshall)
Last Action: 03/30/2017 H Referred to Energy Resources: Mar 30 2017 1:18PM
Caption: Outlines notice requirements of large operation excavations, ie: those that exceed one contiguous linear mile.

 

HB 3284 Author: Springer (R – Muenster)
Last Action: 03/28/2017 H Referred to Energy Resources: Mar 28 2017 1:43PM
Re: Excludes employees of the Texas Department of Transportation from excavation safety requirements when performing specific activities.

 

HB 3334 Author: Lozano (R – Kingsville)
Last Action: 04/04/2017 H Referred to Energy Resources: Apr 4 2017 12:13PM
Re: Prevents the Railroad Commission from allowing surface disposal of oil and gas waste without a permit if the waste contains certain concentrations of chloride, benzene, etc.

 

HB 3403 Author: Canales (D – Edinburg)
Last Action: 04/03/2017 H Referred to Energy Resources: Apr 3 2017 3:34PM
Caption: Defines child-care facility and private school, and allows a municipality to regulate or prohibit drilling of a new oil or gas well located within 1,500 feet of the property line of a child-care facility, private school, or primary or secondary public school.

 

HB 3726 Author: Dale (R – Cedar Park)
Last Action: 04/10/2017 H Scheduled for public hearing
Caption: Repeals Section 113.087(m) of the Texas Natural Resources Code, which provided for an examination for technical competence, attendance at continuing education programs, and periodic re-examination for a Liquified Petroleum Gas license.

 

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