Demand Real Reform for the Texas Railroad Commission
Responsible regulation of oil and gas companies is needed to protect Texans.
Like every Texas state agency, the Railroad Commission goes through a process called “Sunset”, where lawmakers evaluate whether or not the agency is meeting its mission and if any improvements are needed before reauthorizing the agency to continue operating. For the past 4 years, the Texas Legislature has kicked the can down the road by passing re-authorization bills without any reforms. Now, the Legislature is going to reauthorize the Railroad Commission for another 12 years. The bill being considered (HB 1818), has almost none the needed reforms to the agency. It wouldn’t even change the name to describe what the agency does (hint: it doesn’t regulate railroads).
House Bill 1818 needs a lot of work, but the most important changes that the committee needs to include are:
- Proper bonding requirements to cover the cost of plugging wells if they are abandoned by the company
- Add a searchable database to the Railroad Commission website with information relating to spills, inspections, complaints, and enforcement actions, including fines and penalties
- Increase fines for violating regulations to deter repeated violations
- Change the name to the “Texas Energy Resources Commission”, so people know what the agency does (it doesn’t even regulate railroads!)