Texas Decides 2018 Voters Guide
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Voters Guide

Railroad Commissioner

What Do They Do? A short video explanation of state elected officeshttps://youtu.be/E5uZASQUUOs6-year term. The railroad commissioner is one of the three-member Texas Railroad Commission. The commission has no regulatory authority concerning railroads. Instead, it regulates the oil and gas industry, gas utilities, pipeline safety, safety in the liquefied petroleum gas industry, and surface coal and uranium mining. Current salary: $137,500Plazo de 6 años. El comisionado de ferrocarriles es uno de los tres miembros de la Comisión de Ferrocarriles de Texas. La comisión no tiene autoridad regulatoria con respecto a los ferrocarriles. En cambio, regula la industria del petróleo y el gas, las utilidades de gas, la seguridad de los oleoductos, la seguridad en la industria del gas de petróleo licuado y la extracción de carbón y uranio en la superficie. Salario actual: $ 137,500.

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  • Candidate picture

    Christi Craddick
    (Rep)

  • Candidate picture

    Roman McAllen
    (Dem)

  • Candidate picture

    Mike Wright
    (L)

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Biographical Information

Background: What training, experience, and background qualify you for this position?

Natural Resources: How do you plan to balance oil, gas, and mining interests with protection of natural resources and the environment?

Safety: How would you address the various safety issues concerning pipelines, and oil and gas production?

Other Issues: What other issues do you consider the most important, and how would you address them?

Having served Texans for six years as your Railroad Commissioner, I am well-versed in the regulatory needs of the agency and the industry’s importance to our state. In my first term, I have brought more of our data online, overhauled our IT infrastructure, and found efficiencies in our processes, allowing us to do our job better and at less cost.
Fair and consistent regulation allows us to protect our natural resources while the industry safely produces Texas energy, grows our economy and creates jobs. During my time at the Railroad Commission, we have updated our rules to ensure we are effectively regulating energy production, and that companies continue to choose to do business in Texas.
The Railroad Commission’s statutory duty is to prevent waste of the state's natural resources, protect the correlative rights of mineral owners, and oversee the safe production of oil and gas. Enforcement of our rules, including permitting and reporting requirements and field inspections, provides the tools we need to successfully carry out our mission.
During this time of enormous growth within the Texas energy industry, we must have thoughtful, balanced leadership at the Railroad Commission. I’ll continue to streamline our processes, maximizing the agency's efficiency while maintaining our regulatory effectiveness. I’ll increase transparency, bringing more of our data online for public use. I’ll advocate for educational paths for a highly-trained, technically-skilled workforce.
I am trained as an urban planner, architect and historic preservationist; at first glance regulating the oil and gas industry in TX doesn't seem like a good fit. The fact is that 88% of Texans live in cities. Oil & gas directly impacts urban life. My diverse experience will allow me to be a leader in this important statewide position.
Right now I plan to balance the commission. The current commission is entirely beholden to the industry. It is an open secret that commissioners accept campaign contributions 24/7, 365 days a year, from the industry. I will balance the commission by listening to and believing scientists, surface rights owners & municipalities and supporting them. Current commissioners deny the science behind climate change. I do not and I will lead on the absolute need to move to 100% renewables.
I would lobby to change the name of the commission to something that tells the public, & the commissioners themselves, what the commission is supposed to be doing. I would seek increased reporting requirements for wastewater injection wells. I will complete ride-alongs with employees in the field to see what is happening first hand on Texas land. I will hold public meetings all over Texas to hear from people what their concerns are. There are many professionals who have grave concerns.
Assiduous enforcement of existing regulations on all matters is crucial. Added costs to accomplish this should be absorbed by the industry. The health, safety, and welfare of all Texans here now, and God willing in the future, depends on true leadership. Sentence does not meet criteria. We must do better.
I have a BS in Engineering from the United State Military Academy (West Point) and a MBA from Harvard Business School. This educational background gives me the analytical ability to study complex situations and make rational decisions. I also have ten years of oilfield equipment manufacturing experience.
If a rule or regulation is requested to be waived but has the intended purpose of protecting natural resources or the environment, the operator would need to submit a plan to monitor the activities surrounding the natural resources or environment that the rule or regulation is intended to protect. This would allow early detection of any possible negative impact on natural resources or the environment before it becomes a major issue.
I would insist that all safety rules and regulations be followed. I would also want the Railroad Commission or the operators to conduct seismic studies when they conduct operations in areas with different geological formations than they have operated in the recent past or when they use higher pressures or greater volumes of water where no known seismic activity has occurred. There are many opinions about the effect of fracking operations and the disposal of water into wells.
Making sure there is a supply of water and finding an economical method for disposing of the water used in fracking and production are major issues. Desalination can provide the fresh water and possibly could be used to recycle brackish water that comes from fracking and production. Based on some tentative calculations, it appears that this can be done economically. The operators would pay for the work but be given some credit against the Oil & Gas severance tax/fee they currently pay.