Tribpedia: Texas Railroad Commission

Tribpedia

The Texas Railroad Commission (TRC) is a state agency with regulatory jurisdiction over the oil and gas industry, pipeline transporters, the natural gas and hazardous liquid pipeline industry, natural gas utilities, the LP-gas industry, and coal and uranium surface mining operations.

Railroad Commissioners are elected to six-year terms with one Commissioner seeking election every two years.

The Railroad Commission's ...

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Paul Baumann's property, owned by his family for generations, is directly next to a proposed drilling waste dump in the small town of Nordheim. He, along with other concerned citizens, are protesting the dump as they fear it will pollute and ruin their way of life.
Paul Baumann's property, owned by his family for generations, is directly next to a proposed drilling waste dump in the small town of Nordheim. He, along with other concerned citizens, are protesting the dump as they fear it will pollute and ruin their way of life.

Drilling Waste Site Roils Tiny Nordheim

Nordheim, population 307, is the site of one of the first organized protests in the heart of the Eagle Ford. Many of its residents are fighting to keep out a massive disposal facility for oil and gas waste — a sight that could become more common as energy producers search for places to dispose of their leftovers.

 

Although leadership at the Texas Railroad Commission and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency often feuds, staff at each agency has found ways to work together, says Milton Rister, executive director of the Railroad Commission.
Although leadership at the Texas Railroad Commission and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency often feuds, staff at each agency has found ways to work together, says Milton Rister, executive director of the Railroad Commission.

EPA Backs Texas Disposal Well Plan

In their efforts to regulate the wells that hold Texas' oilfield waste, state officials have found a surprising ally in the federal Environmental Protection Agency, long a political punching bag in Texas. Support for the plan, expressed in a letter this month, provides a glimpse of the behind-the-scenes collaboration between two agencies whose relationship often appears icy.

Steve Lipsky shows the methane contamination of his well by igniting the gas with a lighter outside his family's home in Parker County near Weatherford on June 17.
Steve Lipsky shows the methane contamination of his well by igniting the gas with a lighter outside his family's home in Parker County near Weatherford on June 17.

Drillers, but Not Fracking, Tied to Tainted Water

Oil and gas activities – but not hydraulic fracturing – tainted drinking water wells atop North Texas’ Barnett Shale and Pennsylvania’s Marcellus formation, according to a new study. High levels of methane escaped poorly constructed natural gas wells and migrated into shallow aquifers.

Steve Lipsky shows the methane contamination of his well by igniting the gas with a lighter outside his family's home in Parker County near Weatherford, Texas on June 17, 2014.
Steve Lipsky shows the methane contamination of his well by igniting the gas with a lighter outside his family's home in Parker County near Weatherford, Texas on June 17, 2014.

Free Speech Case Springs From Fracking Dispute

A tainted water well in North Texas has already stirred national debate about the impacts of oil and gas production. Now it stars in a free speech dispute that has landed in the Texas Supreme Court – the biggest test of a state law meant to curb attempts to stifle public protest. 

Gov. Rick Perry has said that a new federal proposal to cut carbon emissions is "the most direct assault yet on the energy providers that employ thousands of Americans."
Gov. Rick Perry has said that a new federal proposal to cut carbon emissions is "the most direct assault yet on the energy providers that employ thousands of Americans."

On Climate Rules, Regulators Look Beyond Litigation

Texas should not bank on legal action to free it from the Obama administration’s proposal to tackle climate change, two officials with state regulators said Friday at a Public Utility Commission workshop, during which state regulators, industry representatives and energy experts wrangled with the complexities of the EPA proposal and debated how Texas should proceed.

Railroad Commissioners Barry Smitherman (center), David Porter (left) and Christi Craddick (right) are shown at a Jan. 15, 2013, meeting in Austin.
Railroad Commissioners Barry Smitherman (center), David Porter (left) and Christi Craddick (right) are shown at a Jan. 15, 2013, meeting in Austin.

Christi Craddick: The TT Interview

The Railroad Commission's new chairman on the agency's dual role as an industry watchdog and champion, the push to ban fracking in Denton and the commission’s efforts on earthquakes and disposal wells.

 

 

Lynda Stokes, the mayor of Reno, Texas, testified before the Railroad Commission of Texas on Jan. 21, 2014. She voiced her concern about an increased number of earthquakes around Eagle Mountain Lake.
Lynda Stokes, the mayor of Reno, Texas, testified before the Railroad Commission of Texas on Jan. 21, 2014. She voiced her concern about an increased number of earthquakes around Eagle Mountain Lake.

Railroad Commission Hopefuls Discuss Disposal Well Plan

Two candidates for the Railroad Commission welcomed the agency's newly proposed requirements for disposal well applications, saying they were a good first step in addressing the spate of earthquakes that have shaken up parts of North Texas.

One of the many pipeline markers sprinkled across David Holland's family farm near Beaumont, Texas. Holland is involved in major litigation involving common carrier status against Denbury Resources, which built a pipeline across his land.
One of the many pipeline markers sprinkled across David Holland's family farm near Beaumont, Texas. Holland is involved in major litigation involving common carrier status against Denbury Resources, which built a pipeline across his land.

Pipeline Proposal Revives Eminent Domain Debate

Texas regulators have proposed new rules aimed at clearing up confusion about which pipelines are "common carriers" — a status that gives pipeline companies the right to claim private property using eminent domain. Pipeline operators oppose stricter regulations. Landowners say they want fair offers for their land.

A gas well last fracked in March sits 385 feet from Debbie Ingram's home in Argyle, Texas on July 22, 2014.
A gas well last fracked in March sits 385 feet from Debbie Ingram's home in Argyle, Texas on July 22, 2014.

Denton Fracking Ban Could Spur Wider Legal Clash

A North Texas town's effort to ban hydraulic fracturing may prompt an unprecedented showdown between two powerful rights: a city's authority to shape development inside its borders, and mineral owners' right to tap their resources. The outcome could reshape Texas law at a time when drilling is causing tension in some urban areas.

Steve Brown (l.) and Ryan Sitton, Democratic and Republican nominees for Railroad Commissioner.
Steve Brown (l.) and Ryan Sitton, Democratic and Republican nominees for Railroad Commissioner.

Race for Railroad Commissioner Revives Overhaul Talk

Several thwarted legislative proposals to overhaul the Texas Railroad Commission — the state's curiously named oil and gas regulator — have resurfaced in the race for an open seat on the commission, illustrating key differences between the candidates' priorities.

Steve Lipsky shows the methane contamination of his well by igniting the gas with a lighter outside his family's home in Parker County near Weatherford, Texas on June 17, 2014.
Steve Lipsky shows the methane contamination of his well by igniting the gas with a lighter outside his family's home in Parker County near Weatherford, Texas on June 17, 2014.

Methane Inquiry Closes, but Questions Linger

Responding to questions about whether fracking has pushed methane to migrate into a North Texas neighborhood’s water supply, the Railroad Commission of Texas last month effectively shut the door on its investigation, saying that oil and gas drilling was not to blame. But independent geoscientists remained divided on the issue.

State Rep. Jim Keffer, R-Eastland, and Steve Brown, the Democratic candidate for Texas railroad commissioner.
State Rep. Jim Keffer, R-Eastland, and Steve Brown, the Democratic candidate for Texas railroad commissioner.

Railroad Commission's Media Policy Draws Concerns

A recent news report on the Railroad Commission of Texas' practice of preventing staffers from talking to members of the media has raised questions about the agency's transparency efforts, with a key Republican lawmaker and a Democratic candidate for railroad commissioner among those expressing concerns.

 

 

Each day, dozens of trucks hook up to the Gulf Coast-run fracking fluid disposal well site near Gonzales, Texas.
Each day, dozens of trucks hook up to the Gulf Coast-run fracking fluid disposal well site near Gonzales, Texas.

Railroad Commission Sides With Driller on Well Protest

UPDATED: The Railroad Commission on Thursday sided with Marathon Oil Company’s bid to dismiss a groundwater conservation district’s protest of its application to inject waste into part of South Texas’ Carrizo-Wilcox aquifer.

Texas Railroad Commission lead engineering technician for districts 1 and 2, Michael Polasek, inspects a salt water disposal injection well at a Heckman Water Resources commercial disposal facility on the LAMZA lease near Highway 80, January 22, 2012.
Texas Railroad Commission lead engineering technician for districts 1 and 2, Michael Polasek, inspects a salt water disposal injection well at a Heckman Water Resources commercial disposal facility on the LAMZA lease near Highway 80, January 22, 2012.

Mayors: Texas Must Act Faster on Earthquake Study

More than six months after a series of earthquakes surprised parts of North Texas, the mayors of two shaken-up towns told a state House subcommittee Monday that the state has moved too slowly in investigating what’s behind the phenomenon.

 

 

More than six months after a series of earthquakes surprised parts of North Texas, the mayors of two shaken-up towns told a state House subcommittee Monday that the state has moved too slowly in investigating what’s behind the phenomenon.

 

 

 

 

Texas Railroad Commission Chairman Barry Smitherman in his office on May 31, 2013.
Texas Railroad Commission Chairman Barry Smitherman in his office on May 31, 2013.

Analysis: Smitherman Lost, but Remains in the Game

Railroad Commissioner Barry Smitherman lost his bid for attorney general, but he remains an oil and gas regulator and has sought industry help retiring campaign debts and perhaps landing a job. The potential for conflict may turn heads, but it's not an unusual situation, and Smitherman supporters say he is an ethical operator.

Malachi Boyuls speaks during the Regulating Energy panel at The Texas Tribune Festival on Sep. 28, 2013.
Malachi Boyuls speaks during the Regulating Energy panel at The Texas Tribune Festival on Sep. 28, 2013.

First-Time Candidate Meets Big State, Crowded Ballot

In his first run for public office, Malachi Boyuls encountered a big state, a crowded ballot and some difficulty with names — both his own and that of the office he sought. Still, after finishing fourth in a Republican primary for a seat on the Railroad Commission, he remains upbeat.

GOP Candidates for the Railroad Commission of Texas. Clockwise, from top left: Becky Berger, Malachi Boyuls, Ryan Sitton and former state Rep. Wayne Christian.
GOP Candidates for the Railroad Commission of Texas. Clockwise, from top left: Becky Berger, Malachi Boyuls, Ryan Sitton and former state Rep. Wayne Christian.

Ethics Debate Swirls in Railroad Commission Race

Ryan Sitton (bottom right), a Republican candidate for railroad commissioner, says that if elected, he would remain involved with his company, which consults with some of the world’s largest oil and gas companies. Some of his opponents have raised concerns.

GOP Candidates for the Railroad Commission of Texas. Clockwise, from top left: Becky Berger, Malachi Boyuls, Ryan Sitton and former state Rep. Wayne Christian.
GOP Candidates for the Railroad Commission of Texas. Clockwise, from top left: Becky Berger, Malachi Boyuls, Ryan Sitton and former state Rep. Wayne Christian.

GOP Railroad Commission Hopefuls Try to Be Different

Four Republicans running for Texas railroad commissioner are working to differentiate themselves as they compete for a job they call hugely important in a state that leads the nation in oil and gas production. But, speaking Thursday at a Republican Women of Austin luncheon, they found plenty upon which to agree.

Texas Railroad Commission lead engineering technician for districts 1 and 2, Michael Polasek, inspects a salt water disposal injection well at a Heckman Water Resources commercial disposal facility on the LAMZA lease near Highway 80, January 22, 2012.
Texas Railroad Commission lead engineering technician for districts 1 and 2, Michael Polasek, inspects a salt water disposal injection well at a Heckman Water Resources commercial disposal facility on the LAMZA lease near Highway 80, January 22, 2012.

After Surprise Quakes, North Texans Speak of Impact

After a contentious town hall meeting concerning the possible links between wastewater injection and a spate of North Texas earthquakes, locals say they cannot afford to wait for state regulators to address the issue.