Oct 8 — Today Earthworks sent a letter to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) Executive Director Toby Baker, and the Texas Railroad Commissioners (TRC), urging them to reject and rescind MDC Pick Pocket 21’s permits after pollution was documented at the site four months after MDC received TCEQ notices of violation requiring cleanup. Earthworks initially documented pollution at the site in November of 2019, which according to TCEQ has been operating without a required permit for most if not all of that time.
The letter copies state legislators and political officials overseeing Texas oil and gas regulators. It chronicles Pick Pocket 21’s pollution, complaints to TCEQ about the pollution, TCEQ’s investigation identifying violations, and Earthworks’ subsequent site visits documenting that the pollution continues ten months later.
“These ongoing emissions [..] show a clear pattern of neglect by MDC. [They] also reveal TCEQ’s failure to do its job to ensure that operators control emissions. This behavior illustrates both MDC’s blatant disregard for the law and TCEQ’s complicity with it. [..] The only reliable way to [prevent this pollution and protect the public] is for TCEQ to reject and/or rescind Pick Pocket 21’s permits.” — excerpt from the letter authored by Earthworks’ certified optical gas imaging operator Sharon Wilson, who documented the pollution during eight site visits.
“Routine flaring and venting are some of the biggest environmental threats that face Texas, and there is no reason they cannot be eliminated. But that will require state regulators to do their job. Without the valuable investigations done by Earthworks’ Sharon Wilson we wouldn’t know this problem exists, or that TCEQ hasn’t fixed it. I salute Sharon and Earthworks for the work they do, and urge TCEQ to act to stop the pollution she has uncovered and TCEQ has confirmed.” — Texas State Representative Vikki Goodwin
MDC Pickpocket 21 pollution timeline:
- November 24, 2019: Earthworks’ certified optical gas imaging thermographer visits site and documents pollution
- December 17, 2019: First complaint filed with TCEQ
- January 11, 2020: Second Earthworks site visit and pollution documented
- January 23, 2020: Second complaint filed
- February 8, 2020: Third Earthworks site visit and pollution documented
- February 10, 2020: Fourth Earthworks site visit and pollution documented
- February 12, 2020: Third complaint filed
- March 5, 2020: Fifth Earthworks site visit and pollution documented
- March 6, 2020: Sixth Earthworks site visit and pollution documented
- March 12, 2020: Fourth complaint filed
- April 2020: TCEQ investigates site
- May 26, 2020: MDC receives notices of violation from TCEQ
- Aug 10, 2020: MDC compliance deadline to address notices of violation
- September 7, 2020: Seventh Earthworks site visit and pollution documented
- September 10, 2020: Eighth Earthworks site visit and pollution documented
- September 26, 2020: Fifth complaint filed
- October 7, 2020: Earthworks letter urging TCEQ rescinding Pickpocket 21 permits