OPINION: Texas operators got a wake-up call last week amid reports that France had temporarily blocked a potential deal between European gas giant Engie and liquefied natural gas developer NextDecade for offtake from the US company's proposed Rio Grande LNG project.

At the heart of the move was the issue of flaring and methane emissions in the prolific Permian basin of western Texas, which would provide the feedstock for Rio Grande LNG in Brownsville.

According to the reports, France said the Permian emissions are simply too high to mesh with the European nation's plans to reduce its own carbon footprint.

The news follows years of efforts by the industry to address the problem.

ExxonMobil claims to have reduced its flaring intensity in the Permian to 1%, while Chevron, Occidental and Pioneer Natural Resources have also made cuts.

But we cannot rely on private industry alone to solve the problem.

The Texas Railroad Commission (TRC) has served as little more than "regulatory rubber stamp" for the oil and gas industry, approving 35,000 flaring permits since 2013 without a single denial, the Environmental Defense Fund says.

It is not for lack of ideas: TRC candidate Chrysta Castaneda is aiming for stricter oversight of flaring permits, and the EDF has outlined a path for the regulator to end routine flaring by 2025.

Texas must catch up on emissions if it is to export its most prized products to a world increasingly concerned with its carbon footprint.

All that is needed is the political will to do it.

(This is an Upstream opinion article.)