EnergyPermit Application Withdrawn for San Augustine Fossil Fuel Waste Disposal Site After Years-Long Controversy

The withdrawal brings an end to the years-long effort to construct an oil and gas disposal site in East Texas.
March 28, 2022
A nearly year-long fight at the Texas Railroad Commission (RRC) has come to an end as the company applying for a waste disposal operating permit in San Augustine County has withdrawn its application.

The issue first arose in 2019 when PA Prospect, a company that constructs oil and gas waste disposal sites, applied for the permit at a site in San Augustine County.

Local residents objected to the site, it being about 100 feet from one adjacent neighbor’s water well, which then triggered a long and cumbersome legal fight at the RRC. The administrative hearing on the application lasted three weeks.

Residents also objected to the site due to its proximity to surrounding creeks that then feed into the Sam Rayburn Reservoir.

On March 25, PA Prospect officially withdrew its application citing the administrative law judge’s recommendation issued earlier this month that the RRC reject the permit.

The Texan Tumbler

“Given the number of amendments, revisions, and then retractions of proposed Facility design and operations,” the judge wrote, “it appears that the Applicant was reacting during the hearing process to Application deficiencies revealed by the Protestants or Examiners.”

During the process, the company’s legal counsel altered its application numerous times as issues were brought forward — including a deficient design mapping the flow of groundwater at the facility and flawed work from the company’s geoscientist Tracey O’Shay.

As of the beginning of March, O’Shay was in settlement negotiations with the Texas Board of Professional Geoscientists for complaints against her.

“Therefore, the Applicant has not met its burden for the issuance of a permit for the Facility,” the recommendation concluded.

The three RRC commissioners were set to consider a final ruling on the application but with the withdrawal, it will not go up for a vote.

The issue became a point of criticism against RRC Chairman Wayne Christian from his primary opponents. Christian won the primary but was forced into a runoff against oil and gas lawyer Sarah Stogner, to be decided on May 24.

Read an in-depth report on the issue here.


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Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.