Texas Railroad commissioner

The Breakdown

The three-person railroad commission oversees all oil and gas drilling in Texas.

Length of term
  • The railroad commissioners are elected in statewide elections to 6 year terms. 1 commissioner position is on the ballot every 2 years.

misleading name
  • Although the role of the Texas Railroad Commissioner (RRC) was initially created to oversee railroad operations, that changed in the early 1930’s.

  • In 2013 a bill to reform the Texas Railroad Commission and change its name failed to pass the Texas State Legislature, leaving the public confused about the RRC’s function.

Responsibilities
  • The Railroad Commission settles disputes amongst oil drillers, sets monthly production quotas, and processes the legal paperwork for pipeline companies seeking to take private property for public use (eminent domain).

Current Importance
  • The Texas oil and gas industry is booming. In 2019, Texas produced 1.45 billion barrels of oil and 6.2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

  • The TRC considers protection of the environment as one of its primary responsibilities. With environmental protections being rolled back due to the current federal administration, the Texas Railroad Commission will need to carry a heavier load in protecting our Texas environment. 

James (Jim) Wright
Brief Biography
  • A pro-business Texan who owns four oil-field service companies 

  • Has no prior political experience

  • Created an environmental task force to work with the railroad commission in addressing oilfield waste issues

Private property rights
  • Will work to balance protecting the rights of private property owners and the pursuit of economic growth for oil and gas companies through the power of eminent domain

Economic development
  • Will focus on keeping Texas’s oil and gas industry strong, as 20% of our state budget is funded by oil and gas taxes and royalties

Flaring
  • Believes flaring is necessary, but should have restrictions with a uniform structure for flaring allowances

Environmental Protections
  • Will stand up against Federal environmental protection policies and work to protect jobs and energy production growth

Chrysta Castaneda
Brief Biography
  • Has a degree in industrial engineering and a law degree

  • Was a founding member of her law firm and currently works as an attorney that focuses on oil and gas litigation 

  • Has held leadership positions in various non- profit agencies focused on improving women’s lives.

Methane Gas Emissions
  • Will decrease methane gas leaks by pushing to pay oil and gas workers to seal abandoned wells currently leaking methane

transparency
  • Wants to make the name and operations of the railroad commission more transparent

flaring
  • Believes flaring is a waste of natural resources, and operators should be incentivized to turn the excess gas into electricity instead of burning it

Environmental potections
  • Will enforce laws already on the books, such as illegal flaring of natural gas, to protect our air and water in Texas

Note to voters

Jim Wright’s oilfield waste disposal company has logged 255 violations issued by the Texas Railroad Commision. 

 

He is listed as the president of Watson Energy Investment, which was shut down by the Texas Railroad Commision.

 

Wright continues to seek a permit for another oilfield and pledges to recuse himself if elected.