TX NATURAL RESOURCES CODE

TITLE 3. OIL AND GAS

SUBTITLE A. ADMINISTRATION

CHAPTER 81. RAILROAD COMMISSION OF TEXAS

SUBCHAPTER C. JURISDICTION, POWERS, AND DUTIES



§ 81.051. JURISDICTION OF COMMISSION.
     (a) The commission has jurisdiction over all:
          (1) common carrier pipelines defined in Section 111.002 of this code in Texas;
          (2) oil and gas wells in Texas;
          (3) persons owning or operating pipelines in Texas; and
          (4) persons owning or engaged in drilling or operating oil or gas wells in Texas.
     (b) Persons listed in Subsection (a) of this section and their pipelines and oil and gas wells are subject to the jurisdiction conferred by law on the commission.

Acts 1977, 65th Leg., p. 2510, ch. 871, art. I, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1977. Amended by Acts 1977, 65th Leg., p. 2694, ch. 871, art. II, § 5, eff. Sept. 1, 1977.

§ 81.052. RULES.
     The commission may adopt all necessary rules for governing and regulating persons and their operations under the jurisdiction of the commission as set forth in Section 81.051, including such rules as the commission may consider necessary and appropriate to implement state responsibility under any federal law or rules governing such persons and their operations.

Acts 1977, 65th Leg., p. 2510, ch. 871, art. I, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1977. Amended by Acts 1979, 66th Leg., p. 19, ch. 12, § 1, eff. March 15, 1979.

§ 81.0521. FEE FOR APPLICATION FOR EXCEPTION TO RAILROAD COMMISSION RULE.
     (a) With each application for an exception to any
      commission rule contained in Chapter 3 of Part I of Title 16 of the Texas Administrative Code, the applicant shall submit to the commission a fee of $150.
     (b) The application fee for an exception to any commission rule may not be refunded.
     (c) Two-thirds of the proceeds from this fee, including any penalties collected in connection with the fee, shall be deposited to the oil-field cleanup fund as provided by Section 91.111.

Added by Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 239, § 73, eff. Sept. 1, 1985. Amended by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1233, § 3, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.

§ 81.0522. NATURAL GAS POLICY ACT APPLICATION FEE.
     (a) With each Natural Gas Policy Act (15 U.S.C. Sections 3301-3432) application, the applicant shall submit to the commission a fee. The commission shall set the application fee in an amount necessary to cover the cost of the commission's well category determination program but not to exceed $150.
     (b) The fee for any Natural Gas Policy Act application may not be refunded.

Added by Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 239, § 73, eff. Sept. 1, 1985. Amended by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1233, § 4, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.

§ 81.053. COMMISSION POWERS.
     In the discharge of its duties and the enforcement of its jurisdiction under this title, the commission shall:
          (1) institute suits;
          (2) hear and determine complaints;
          (3) require the attendance of witnesses and pay their expenses out of funds provided for that purpose;
          (4) obtain the issuance of writs and process which may be necessary for the enforcement of its orders; and
          (5) punish for contempt or disobedience of its orders in the manner provided for the district courts.

Acts 1977, 65th Leg., p. 2510, ch. 871, art. I, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1977.

§ 81.0531. ADMINISTRATIVE PENALTY.
     (a) If a person violates provisions of this title which pertain to safety or the prevention or control of pollution or the provisions of a rule, order, license, permit, or certificate which pertain to safety or the prevention or control of pollution and are issued under this title, the person may be assessed a civil penalty by the commission.
     (b) The penalty may not exceed $10,000 a day for each violation. Each day a violation continues may be considered a separate violation for purposes of penalty assessments.
     (c) In determining the amount of the penalty, the commission shall consider the permittee's history of previous violations, the seriousness of the violation, any hazard to the health or safety of the public, and the demonstrated good faith of the person charged. In determining the amount of the penalty for a violation of a provision of this title or a rule, order, license, permit, or certificate that relates to pipeline safety, the commission shall consider the guidelines adopted under Subsection (d).
     (d) The commission by rule shall adopt guidelines to be used in determining the amount of the penalty for a violation of a provision of this title or a rule, order, license, permit, or certificate that relates to pipeline safety. The guidelines shall include a penalty calculation worksheet that specifies the typical penalty for certain violations, circumstances justifying enhancement of a penalty and the amount of the enhancement, and circumstances justifying a reduction in a penalty and the amount of the reduction. The guidelines shall take into account:
          (1) the permittee's history of previous violations, including the number of previous violations;
          (2) the seriousness of the violation and of any pollution resulting from the violation;
          (3) any hazard to the health or safety of the public;
          (4) the degree of culpability;
          (5) the demonstrated good faith of the person charged; and
          (6) any other factor the commission considers relevant.
     (e) A penalty collected under this section shall be deposited to the credit of the oil-field cleanup fund.

Added by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1407, ch. 286, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983. Amended by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 1089, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1999; Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1233, § 5, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.

§ 81.0532. PENALTY ASSESSMENT PROCEDURE.
     (a) A civil penalty may be assessed only after the person charged with a violation described under Section 81.0531 of this code has been given an opportunity for a public hearing.
     (b) If a public hearing has been held, the commission shall make findings of fact, and it shall issue a written decision as to the occurrence of the violation and the amount of the penalty that is warranted, incorporating, when appropriate, an order requiring that the penalty be paid.
     (c) If appropriate, the commission shall consolidate the hearings with other proceedings.
     (d) If the person charged with the violation fails to avail himself of the opportunity for a public hearing, a civil penalty may be assessed by the commission after it has determined that a violation did occur and the amount of the penalty that is warranted.
     (e) The commission shall then issue an order requiring that the penalty be paid.

Added by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1407, ch. 286, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983.

§ 81.0533. PAYMENT OF PENALTY;
     REFUND.
     (a) On the issuance of an order finding that a violation has occurred, the commission shall inform the person charged within 30 days of the amount of the penalty.
     (b) Within the 30-day period immediately following the day on which the decision or order is final as provided in Subchapter F, Chapter 2001, Government Code, the person charged with the penalty shall:
          (1) pay the penalty in full; or
          (2) if the person seeks judicial review of either the amount of the penalty or the fact of the violation, or both:
               (A) forward the amount to the commission for placement in an escrow account; or
               (B) in lieu of payment into escrow, post with the commission a supersedeas bond in a form approved by the commission for the amount of the penalty, such bond to be effective until all judicial review of the order or decision is final.
     (c) If through judicial review of the decision or order it is determined that no violation occurred or that the amount of the penalty should be reduced or not assessed, the commission shall, within the 30-day period immediately following that determination, if the penalty has been paid to the commission, remit the appropriate amount to the person, with accrued interest, or where a supersedeas bond has been posted, the commission shall execute a release of such bond.
     (d) Failure to forward the money to the commission within the time provided by Subsection (b) of this section results in a waiver of all legal rights to contest the violation or the amount of the penalty.
     (e) Judicial review of the order or decision of the commission assessing the penalty shall be under the substantial evidence rule and shall be instituted by filing a petition with the district court of Travis County, Texas, and not elsewhere, as provided for in Subchapter G, Chapter 2001, Government Code.

Added by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1407, ch. 286, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983. Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 76, § 5.95(53), (59), eff. Sept. 1, 1995.

§ 81.0534. RECOVERY OF PENALTY.
     Civil penalties owed under Sections 81.0531-81.0533 of this code may be recovered in a civil action brought by the attorney general at the request of the commission.

Added by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1407, ch. 286, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983.

§ 81.054. ENFORCEMENT BY ATTORNEY GENERAL.
     (a) The attorney general shall enforce the provision of this title by injunction or other adequate remedy and as otherwise provided by law.
     (b) If an action is instituted by the attorney general under this section alleging a violation of an NPDES permit or the failure to obtain an NPDES permit under Chapter 91 or Chapter 141 of the Natural Resources Code, the attorney general may not oppose intervention by a person who has standing to intervene, as provided by Rule 60, Texas Rules of Civil Procedure.

Acts 1977, 65th Leg., p. 2510, ch. 871, art. I, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1977. Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 310, § 5, eff. Aug. 28, 1995.

§ 81.055. PIPELINE SYSTEM FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY REQUIREMENTS.
     (a) Not later than March 1, 2002, the legislature
      may:
          (1) study the desirability of requiring an owner, operator, or manager of a pipeline system to obtain liability insurance coverage, a bond, or other evidence of financial responsibility in order to protect the public from the costs resulting from a discharge from the pipeline system; and
          (2) report its findings to the legislature and make the report available to the public.
     (b) If the legislature finds that adoption of such a requirement is desirable, the commission by rule may require an owner, operator, or manager of a pipeline system to obtain evidence of financial responsibility. The rules must specify the appropriate form and amount of that evidence and may require evidence of financial responsibility in different amounts for different pipeline systems, taking into consideration whether the pipeline system:
          (1) has a history of discharges or other violations of regulatory requirements; or
          (2) is located over a public drinking water supply, a natural resource, or a critical groundwater resource or near a school or populated area.

Added by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1233, § 6, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.

§ 81.056. CONTAMINATION REPORT.
     (a) In this section:
          (1) "Common carrier" has the meaning assigned by Section 111.002.
          (2) "Owner of the land" or "landowner" means the first person who is shown on the appraisal roll of the appraisal district established for the county in which a tract of land is located as owning an interest in the surface estate of the land at the time a contamination report is required to be made under this section.
     (b) If in the process of placing, repairing, replacing, or maintaining a pipeline a common carrier or an owner or operator of a pipeline observes or detects any petroleum-based contamination of soil or water in proximity to the pipeline, the common carrier or pipeline owner or operator shall report the contamination to the commission and the owner of the land on which the pipeline is located. Petroleum-based contamination of soil or water that is observed or detected is required to be reported under this subsection if:
          (1) hydrocarbons are present on the surface of the water;
          (2) at least five linear yards of soil have been affected by hydrocarbons; or
          (3) soil affected by hydrocarbons extends beyond the face of the excavation in which the contamination is observed or detected.
     (c) The contamination report:
          (1) must be made not later than 24 hours after the common carrier or pipeline owner or operator observes or detects the contamination;
          (2) must include the global positioning satellite coordinates of the location of the contamination; and
          (3) may be made by telephone, facsimile, or electronic mail.
     (d) Not later than the third business day after the date the commission receives the contamination report, a person authorized by the commission shall withdraw a soil sample from the contaminated land. The person is entitled to enter the land for the purpose of withdrawing the sample.
     (e) A common carrier or pipeline owner or operator that makes a contamination report under this section is released from all liability for the contamination or the cleanup of the contamination covered by the report, except for any contamination caused by the common carrier or pipeline owner or operator.
     (f) The commission shall adopt rules to implement this section.
     (g) The commission may not use money in the oil-field cleanup fund to implement this section.

Added by Acts 2005, 79th Leg., ch. 339, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 2005.

§ 81.057. EXEMPTION FROM CERTAIN PURCHASING RULES.
     The commission is not required to follow any purchasing procedures prescribed by or under the following laws when the commission makes a purchase in connection with the remediation of surface locations or well plugging:
          (1) Subchapter E, Chapter 2155, Government Code; and
          (2) Subchapters B and C, Chapter 2177, Government Code.

Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1272, § 2, eff. Sept. 1, 2003. Amended by Acts 2005, 79th Leg., ch. 514, § 2, eff. Sept. 1, 2005.