TX NATURAL RESOURCES CODE

TITLE 3. OIL AND GAS

SUBTITLE A. ADMINISTRATION

CHAPTER 91. PROVISIONS GENERALLY APPLICABLE

SUBCHAPTER H. UNDERGROUND STORAGE FACILITIES FOR NATURAL GAS



§ 91.251. DEFINITIONS.
     In this subchapter:
          (1) "Intrastate gas pipeline facility" has the meaning assigned by the United States Department of Transportation under Chapter 601, Title 49, United States Code (49 U.S.C. Section 60101 et seq.), and its subsequent amendments.
          (2) "Natural gas" means any gaseous material composed primarily of methane in either its original or its manufactured state.
          (3) "Natural gas underground storage" means the storage of natural gas beneath the surface of the earth in a formation, stratum, or reservoir.
          (4) "Storage facility" has the meaning assigned by Section 91.173.

Added by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 166, § 5, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.

§ 91.252. COMMISSION JURISDICTION.
     (a) The commission has jurisdiction over:
          (1) natural gas underground storage; and
          (2) surface and subsurface equipment and facilities used for natural gas underground storage.
     (b) This subchapter does not apply to a storage facility that is:
          (1) part of an interstate gas pipeline facility as defined by the United States Department of Transportation; and
          (2) subject to federal minimum standards adopted under Chapter 601, Title 49, United States Code (49 U.S.C. Section 60101 et seq.), and its subsequent amendments.

Added by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 166, § 5, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.

§ 91.253. COMMISSION ENFORCEMENT.
     (a) In addition to other authority specifically granted to the commission under this subchapter, the commission may enforce this subchapter or a rule adopted or an order or permit issued under this subchapter as provided by Section 91.207.
     (b) Section 91.003 does not apply to this subchapter.

Added by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 166, § 5, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.

§ 91.254. INSPECTION;
     EXAMINATION;
     CREDENTIALS.
     (a) The commission may inspect a storage facility for compliance with the safety standards and practices and the recordkeeping requirements adopted under Sections 91.255, 91.257, and 91.258.
     (b) To conduct an inspection under this section, a commissioner or a designated commission employee or agent may enter property on which a storage facility is located at a reasonable time and in a reasonable manner to examine:
          (1) the facility and any related buildings or equipment; and
          (2) the records required to be maintained at the storage facility under Section 91.258.
     (c) A commissioner or a commission employee or agent may not enter the premises of a storage facility having personnel on the premises of the facility unless proper credentials are first presented to the person at the facility who is in charge of the property.

Added by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 166, § 5, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.

§ 91.255. SAFETY STANDARDS AND PRACTICES.
     (a) The commission by rule shall adopt safety standards and practices for natural gas underground storage and storage facilities. The standards and practices must:
          (1) require the installation and periodic testing of safety devices;
          (2) establish emergency notification procedures for the operator of a facility in the event of a release of a hazardous substance that poses a substantial risk to the public;
          (3) establish fire prevention and response procedures;
          (4) require training for the employees of the storage facility on the safe operation of the storage facility; and
          (5) establish any other safety standard or practice that is reasonable and necessary for underground natural gas storage and the safe construction, operation, and maintenance of a storage facility.
     (b) The commission may adopt different standards and practices for different types of storage facilities and may distinguish among natural gas underground storage in salt dome caverns, depleted reservoirs, and embedded salt formations.
     (c) The commission may grant an exception to a standard or practice adopted under this section in a permit or amended permit issued to a storage facility if the exception will not constitute an unreasonable danger to the public.
     (d) The commission may impose an additional standard or practice in a permit or amended permit issued to a storage facility.
     (e) A safety standard or practice adopted by the commission for a storage facility that is part of an intrastate gas pipeline facility must be compatible with federal minimum standards.
     (f) The commission shall require that records of safety device tests required by Subsection (a)(1) be:
          (1) filed with the commission; or
          (2) maintained by the owner or operator and made available for inspection by the commission.

Added by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 166, § 5, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.

§ 91.256. LIMITATION ON POWERS OF MUNICIPALITIES AND COUNTIES.
     A municipality or county may not adopt or enforce an
      ordinance that establishes a safety standard or practice applicable to a storage facility that is subject to regulation under this subchapter, another state law, or a federal law.

Added by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 166, § 5, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.

§ 91.257. SAFETY PROCEDURE MANUAL.
     The commission may require the owner or operator of a storage facility to prepare a safety procedure manual for each storage facility and to:
          (1) file a copy of the manual with the commission; or
          (2) make the manual available for inspection under Section 91.254.

Added by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 166, § 5, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.

§ 91.258. RECORDS;
     REPORTS.
     (a) An owner or operator of a storage facility shall:
          (1) maintain records and make reports relating to construction, operation, or maintenance of the facility as required by commission rule; and
          (2) provide any other information required by the commission relating to construction, operation, or maintenance of the facility.
     (b) The commission may provide forms for reports required under Subsection (a).

Added by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 166, § 5, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.

§ 91.259. DAMAGE TO STORAGE FACILITY;
     DISABLING A SAFETY DEVICE. A person may not:
          (1) intentionally damage or destroy a storage facility; or
          (2) disable a safety device in a storage facility except to:
               (A) repair, maintain, test, or replace the device; or
               (B) conduct other activities that are reasonably necessary for the safe operation of the storage facility.

Added by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 166, § 5, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.

§ 91.260. INJUNCTION;
     CIVIL PENALTY.
     (a) The attorney general, at the request of the commission, shall bring a civil action against a person who has violated or is violating this subchapter or a rule adopted or an order or permit issued under this subchapter for:
          (1) injunctive relief to restrain the person from the violation;
          (2) the assessment and recovery of a civil penalty for a violation; or
          (3) both injunctive relief and a civil penalty.
     (b) A civil penalty assessed under this section may not exceed $25,000 for each violation.
     (c) Each day of a continuing violation may be considered a separate violation for the purpose of penalty assessment.
     (d) The maximum penalty assessed for a related series of violations may not exceed $500,000.

Added by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 166, § 5, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.

§ 91.261. ADMINISTRATIVE PENALTY.
     (a) The commission may assess, as provided by this section and Sections 91.262, 91.263, and 91.264, an administrative penalty against a person who violates this subchapter or a rule adopted or an order or permit issued under this subchapter.
     (b) Except as provided by Subsection (c), the penalty for each violation may be in an amount not to exceed $10,000. The maximum penalty assessed under this subsection for a related series of violations may not exceed $200,000.
     (c) The penalty for each violation of Section 91.259 may be in an amount not to exceed $25,000. The maximum penalty assessed under this subsection for a continuing violation may not exceed $300,000.
     (d) Each day a violation continues or occurs may be considered a separate violation for the purpose of penalty assessment under Subsection (b) or (c).
     (e) In determining the amount of the penalty, the commission shall consider:
          (1) the seriousness of the violation, including the nature, circumstances, extent, and gravity of the prohibited act and the hazard or potential hazard created to the health, safety, or economic welfare of the public;
          (2) the economic harm to property or the environment caused by the violation;
          (3) the history of previous violations;
          (4) the amount necessary to deter future violations;
          (5) efforts to correct the violation; and
          (6) any other matter that justice may require.

Added by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 166, § 5, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.

§ 91.262. ADMINISTRATIVE PENALTY ASSESSMENT PROCEDURE.
     (a) An administrative penalty may be assessed only
      after the person charged under Section 91.261 has been given an opportunity for a public hearing. If a public hearing is held, the commission shall make findings of fact and issue a written decision as to the occurrence of the violation and the penalty amount warranted by the violation, incorporating, if appropriate, an order requiring that the penalty be paid. If appropriate, the commission shall consolidate the hearing with other proceedings.
     (b) If a person charged under Section 91.261 fails to take advantage of the opportunity for a public hearing, a penalty may be assessed by the commission after it has determined that a violation occurred and the penalty amount warranted by the violation. The commission shall then issue an order requiring the penalty to be paid.
     (c) The commission shall give notice of the commission's order to the person charged with the violation as provided by Chapter 2001, Government Code. The notice must include a statement of the right of the person to judicial review of the order.

Added by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 166, § 5, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.

§ 91.263. PAYMENT OF ADMINISTRATIVE PENALTY.
     (a) Not later than the 30th day after the date on which the commission's order imposing an administrative penalty becomes final as provided by Section 2001.144, Government Code, the person charged with the violation shall:
          (1) pay the amount of the penalty;
          (2) pay the amount of the penalty and file a petition for judicial review contesting:
               (A) the amount of the penalty;
               (B) the fact of the violation; or
               (C) both the amount of the penalty and the fact of the violation; or
          (3) without paying the amount of the penalty, file a petition for judicial review contesting:
               (A) the amount of the penalty;
               (B) the fact of the violation; or
               (C) both the amount of the penalty and the fact of the violation.
     (b) Within the 30-day period, a person who acts under Subsection (a)(3) may:
          (1) stay the enforcement of the penalty by:
               (A) paying the amount of the penalty to the court for placement in an escrow account; or
               (B) giving to the court a supersedeas bond in a form approved by the court that is effective until all judicial review of the order or decision is final; or
          (2) request the court to stay enforcement of the penalty by:
               (A) filing with the court a sworn affidavit stating that the person is financially unable to pay the amount of the penalty and is financially unable to give the supersedeas bond; and
               (B) delivering a copy of the affidavit to the commission.
     (c) If the commission receives a copy of an affidavit under Subsection (b), the commission may file a contest to the affidavit with the court not later than the fifth day after the date the copy is received. The court shall hold a hearing on the facts alleged in the affidavit as soon as practicable. The person who files an affidavit has the burden of proving that the person is financially unable to pay the amount of the penalty and to give a supersedeas bond.
     (d) If the person does not pay the amount of the penalty and the penalty is not stayed, the commission may refer the matter to the attorney general for enforcement.

Added by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 166, § 5, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.

§ 91.264. JUDICIAL REVIEW OF ADMINISTRATIVE PENALTY.
     (a) Judicial review of a commission order imposing an administrative penalty is:
          (1) instituted by filing a petition as provided by Subchapter G, Chapter 2001, Government Code; and
          (2) under the substantial evidence rule.
     (b) If the person paid the amount of the penalty and that amount is reduced or is not assessed by the court, the court shall order that the appropriate amount plus accrued interest be remitted to the person. The rate of interest is the rate charged on loans to depository institutions by the New York Federal Reserve Bank and shall be paid for the period beginning on the date the penalty is paid and ending on the date the penalty is remitted. If the person gave a supersedeas bond, the court shall order the release of the bond:
          (1) without further action by the person if the penalty is not assessed by the court; or
          (2) on payment of the penalty in the amount determined by the court.
     (c) A penalty collected under this section shall be deposited to the credit of the oil-field cleanup fund account.

Added by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 166, § 5, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.