The Rule of Capture has long been an established rule of law. It allows for the capture of water or mineral or hydrocarbons (oil and gas) to be taken from under property that may not necessarily be from underneath the property where the well exists. Basically taking the asset from underneath a neighbor's property. Existing law allows this.
A case currently before the Texas Supreme Court will be looking at situations where injection wells might be pushing toxic substances onto neighboring properties and possibly across several miles. And if so does the company doing the injection hold any liability for the spreading of the underground pollution. Seemingly the opposite of the Rule of Capture instead of taking its giving.
This is the first time this issue has come before the Texas Supreme Court and to date I am unaware of any other statutes on the book around the nation that address this concern.
Obviously a ruling against the industry could potentially have wide ranging affects across the board, and especially the oil and gas industry. The migration of substances several miles underground is hard if not impossible to track but an adverse ruling will surely affect how business is done in Texas when it comes to the disposal of drilling waste. Underground water is the first and most important thing that comes to mind when subsurface pollution is concerned.
It could open a whole new area of tort law, possibly allowing for neighbors to be suing neighbors. It could also usher in a whole new kind of industry cleanup. Instead of injecting this stuff underground companies might start exploring ways to clean up the substances and reuse it. It's a very important case that is garnering very little attention, so far.
Coby L. Wooten, Attorney at Law, P.C. will be watching the Supreme Court to see what the ruling will hold. If you or a family member has been injured because of the negligence of another give us a call at 800-994-1966.