EPA warns West Texas of problematic air quality, could implement harsher rules

An aerial view of Crane County, TX, in the Permian Basin.
An aerial view of Crane County, TX, in the Permian Basin.(Joshua Skinner / KOSA)
Published: Jun. 28, 2022 at 11:49 AM CDT
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ODESSA, Texas (KOSA) - The Environmental Protection Agency has issued an ultimatum to West Texas: Fix your air quality or harsher regulations will be implemented.

The Biden administration could soon put stricter regulations in place that will have a negative effect on oil and gas production in the Permian Basin.

If the EPA labels parts of the Permian Basin as a “nonattainment zone”, meaning the state violates federal ozone regulations, the state would have to implement a three-year plan to lower pollution, possibly at the expense of the oil and gas industry.

State leaders decried the edict.

“The EPA’s process could interfere in the production of oil in Texas which could lead to skyrocketing prices at the pump by reducing production, increase the cost of that production, or do both,” said Gov. Abbott in a statement to the Biden administration. “Your administration’s announced action is completely discretionary.”

Abbott’s statement did not address air quality but did say Texas will support its oil and gas operators.

“If the EPA’s proposed re-designation is not suspended, the State of Texas will take action necessary to protect the production of oil,” Abbott said.

Rep. August Pfluger (R, TX-11), who represents much of the Permian Basin, also issued a statement.

“Slowing down production in the Permian Basin, the largest secure supply of energy in the world that supplies 40% of the United States’ production, will increase America’s dependence on foreign oil and lead to higher costs at the pump,” Pfluger said.

Pfluger did not address the EPA’s concerns about West Texas air quality.

In late May, Permian Basin operator DCP Operating Company agreed to make $500,000 in improvements to a gas plant and improve air quality in Odessa, as well as pay a $150,000 fine as part of March 2021 lawsuit alleging improper flaring of gas.

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