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Emails show Texas regulators spotting oil ‘mess’ from flood

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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Internal emails show Texas energy regulators describing an oil spill “mess” following heavy May floods near Houston and expecting calls from local residents.

But the El Paso Times reported Sunday (http://bit.ly/2aLRqTT) that the Texas Railroad Commission wouldn’t tell the newspaper whether the state levied any fines or whether the agency knew how much oil had escaped into the San Jacinto River.

How Texas regulators handle flood-related spills is under increasing scrutiny following the release of aerial photographs showing large crude slicks on waterways.

Emails obtained by a state lawmaker show regulators warning of oil seeping into Lake Houston and sticking to “whatever it lands upon” once the water recedes.

A Railroad Commission spokeswoman says the agency responds to oil releases with urgency but wouldn’t answer specific questions about the spill.

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