Subscribe to receive our Floor Reports covering all the action on the Texas House and Senate floor!
Summary: The penalties for Oil and Gas companies for general safety infractions in the Natural Resources Code have not been altered since 1983. Because of this, the size of the penalties are much lower than current federal penalties. In order to maintain the level of funding for certain programs, including the Pipeline Safety Program, and in order for the Railroad Commission to maintain its authority in regulating the industry, the federal government requires that these penalties be raised to at least the minimum amount that the federal government assesses in fines. HB 1863 raises the penalties in the Natural Resources Code to meet the minimum required by federal regulators.
Analysis: Normally, TPPA would not support an increase in penalties or regulations to private companies. However, in order to maintain both the Pipeline Safety Program and preserve the Railroad Commission as the regulating authority (as opposed to a federal government takeover) it is necessary to comply with the federal regulation. HB 1863 represents the least restrictive means to do so. By increasing the fines now, Texas will avoid a major expansion of regulation in the future if the federal government steps in to take the place of the Railroad Commission.