OIL AND GAS CLIENT ALERT: What is the Scope of the Phrase “Public Interest?”

    21 April 2011
    Pursuant to TEX. WATER CODE § 27.031, a company seeking to convert a well into an injection well for oil and gas waste water must apply to the Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC) for a permit. In granting an injection well permit, the RRC is required to make the following findings: (1) that the use or installation of the injection well is in the public interest (emphasis added); (2) that the use or installation of the injection well will not endanger or injure any oil, gas or other mineral formation; (3) that, with proper safeguards, both ground and surface fresh water can be adequately protected from pollution; and (4) that the applicant has made satisfactory showing of financial responsibility if required by Section 27.073. The core issue discussed by the Supreme Court of Texas (Supreme Court) in Railroad Commission of Texas and Pioneer Exploration, Ltd. v. Texas Citizens for a Safe Future and Clean Water and James G. Popp, No. 08-0497, revolves around the scope of the “public interest,” as this phrase is not actually defined by the statute.