Activists Continue To Fight Flaring-Reducing Infrastructure

Increased pipeline infrastructure is expected to reduce flaring in Texas, according to a new report by Texas Railroad Commissioner Ryan Sitton. Yet, activists across central Texas are waging an all-out war on infrastructure that Commissioner Sitton called “critical to Texas being able to realize its energy opportunities.”

For example, the Permian Highway Pipeline is one of the largest natural gas infrastructure projects currently being built in the state. According to the report, the pipeline’s planned capacity is 2.1 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day, and this, along with other projects such as gathering systems and processing plants, are needed to “handle the exponential growth in Permian gas production.” These projects are expected to make large reductions in flaring volumes across the state.

In fact, the RRC’s data show “current projections are that approximately 200,000 [million cubic feet per day] of current flaring will be reduced over the next 12 to 18 months as these systems are completed.” A reduction of flaring of this magnitude would have an immediate impact on emissions in the Permian Basin and beyond.

Activists Threaten Benefits of New Infrastructure

The environmental benefits of natural gas pipelines such as the Permian Highway Pipeline, however, are not guaranteed. Environmental groups across the state are actively fighting the construction of the pipeline in key areas of the state. Last week, a judge in Austin denied a request for a temporary restraining order on the construction of the pipeline because activists failed to provide sufficient evidence of negative environmental impacts, but a preliminary injunction hearing scheduled for early March will evaluate whether or not Kinder Morgan can continue construction through the area.

The benefits of pipeline infrastructure across the state extend far beyond reducing local emissions and flaring. Pipelines, such as the Permian Highway Pipeline, also allow operators to ship their product to market, positively contributing to Texas’ economy. The lack of available capacity hinders Texas’ oil and natural gas producers’ access to key areas in the state. This includes access to facilities to export domestically produced natural gas across the world, further reducing global greenhouse gas emissions.

Activists have already stated they will continue to fight this pipeline’s construction in courtrooms across the state, refusing to acknowledge the environmental and economic benefits it will provide. As oil and natural gas production continues to ramp up, Texas will need further infrastructure development to, as Commissioner Sitton said, “realize its energy opportunities.”

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