A group of Wise County residents has won a round against the natural gas industry and the Texas Railroad Commission in a dispute over a saltwater disposal well.
The Third Court of Appeals in Austin ruled that the Railroad Commission didn’t take the group’s concerns into consideration when it granted a permit for a commercial saltwater disposal well. The group, Texas Citizens for a Safe Future and Clean Water, had tried to stop the Railroad Commission from issuing a permit for a commercial saltwater disposal well in rural Wise County.
But the railroad commission granted the permit, saying it was in the public interest because the well would help increase the production of oil and gas. The appeals court said that interpretation of “public interest” was too narrow, and that the commission should have considered the impact of traffic and environmental problems on surrounding residents.
The court sent the case back to the railroad commission, so the commission could still grant the permit.
But the case is still “a very important precedent,” said Jim Popp, president of the group, “We’ve said all along, when the Railroad Commission says ‘greater pub interest,’ all they’re saying is oil and gas, it has nothing to do with the greater public good.”
Read the appeals court decision here.