November 21, 2011 Articles

Permitted Trespass in FPL Farming Ltd. v. Environmental Processing Systems, L.C.

The Texas Supreme Court held that a regulatory permit to drill a wastewater injection well does not absolve the permit holder from civil tort liability.

By Sara E. Mouledoux – November 21, 2011

The Texas Supreme Court has recently added another layer to the complex interplay between subsurface property rights and oil and gas operations. In FPL Farming Ltd. v. Environmental Processing Systems, L.C., the Texas Supreme Court held that a regulatory permit to drill a wastewater injection well did not absolve the permit holder from civil tort liability for the exact conduct sanctioned by the permit. 2011 WL 3796612, ---S.W.3d ---, 54 Tex Sup. Ct. J. Wainwright, (Tex. Aug. 26, 2011). Although it did not address whether the operations at issue had in fact caused any actual harm, the court went to great lengths to distinguish its recent pro-industry holding in Coastal Oil & Gas Corp. v. Garza Energy Trust. 268 S.W.3d 1 (Tex. 2008).


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