FRACTURED, Part IV: Why it took years to shut down Texas Tea

How one oil and gas company ran afoul of Colorado regulators, and what it tells us about how the energy industry is – and isn’t – held to account.

Photos of a Texas Tea well in Brighton from 2012 and 2016 show that no action was taken by Texas Tea to clean up its mess. As of today, no one has cleaned up the site, which is still leaking from the well head. (Photo credits: COGCC, Ted Wood/The Story Group)

In late spring, the chief regulator of Colorado’s oil and gas industry, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission [COGCC], finally brought the hammer down on Texas Tea, LLC.

The small oil and gas operator, which incorporated in Colorado with more than 30 wells around Weld and Adams counties, had been on the state’s enforcement radar for years. The Commission had tagged Texas Tea with repeated violations dating back to 1999, including spills, mechanical failures, abandoned wells and, as time went on, accumulating unpaid fines.

In a terse letter to the owner, Robert Parker, dated June 15, 2016, COGCC Director Matthew Lepore summarily shut down Texas Tea and seized its assets around the state. “Effective immediately, the Commission has terminated Texas Tea’s Operator Number…and revoked Texas Tea’s right to conduct oil and gas operations in Colorado,” Lepore wrote, cautioning Parker with boilerplate language that the Commission “will not tolerate threats or violent behavior” in response to the ruling. The COGCC went on to claim all equipment, saleable product and miscellaneous assets from Texas Tea’s operations. For the full story, read it in the Colorado Independent.

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