Unveiling the Top Texas Methane Polluters

Staff | Used by permission
Flaring of methane gas is a common practice that results in the release of greenhouse gasses and toxins

Methane emissions have emerged as a significant concern in the fight against climate change. So who are the biggest methane polluters in Texas?  

According to a 2021 report by Earthworks, many oil and gas companies fail to obtain flaring permits from the Texas Railroad Commission (RRC) and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). The report states, “69-84% of observed flares did not have required flaring permits” with Shell and Exxon, both of which have made climate commitments, among the alleged violators. The report reveals, “Shell did not have a permit for any of its observed flares; Exxon only had permits for two flares.”

A 2022 report by Ceres and Clean Air Task Force, which analyzed data submitted by major oil and gas producers to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), found that Texas-based Hilcorp led the nation in total methane emissions in 2020, followed by Exxon, Occidental, and ConocoPhillips. The companies collectively reported more than 300,000 metric tons of methane emissions.

Lesley Feldman, a senior Clean Air Task Force analyst, emphasizes the need for action, stating, “There are clear steps oil and gas producers can take to reduce their methane and other greenhouse gas emissions.” She adds, “Federal and state regulations are key to ensuring we can standardize best practices across the industry.”

Texas produces 42% of the nation’s crude oil and 27% of its natural gas, so it’s critical to the nation’s climate goals that we cut methane pollution, which is more than 25 times as potent as carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere. It is imperative that oil and gas companies prioritize emission reduction strategies, invest in advanced technologies, and collaborate with regulatory bodies to establish stringent guidelines.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed rules to require oil and gas companies to do just that. It’s critical that the final rules do as much as possible to curtail this climate super pollutant.


Darius Hajibashi


Luke Metzger

Executive Director, Environment Texas

As the executive director of Environment Texas, Luke is a leading voice in the state for clean air, clean water, clean energy and open space. Luke has led successful campaigns to win permanent protection for the Christmas Mountains of Big Bend; to compel Exxon, Shell and Chevron Phillips to cut air pollution at three Texas refineries and chemical plants; and to boost funding for water conservation, renewable energy and state parks. The San Antonio Current has called Luke "long one of the most energetic and dedicated defenders of environmental issues in the state." He has been named one of the "Top Lobbyists for Causes" by Capitol Inside, received the President's Award from the Texas Recreation and Parks Society for his work to protect Texas parks, and was chosen for the inaugural class of "Next Generation Fellows" by the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law at UT Austin. Luke, his wife, son and daughters are working to visit every state park in Texas.