Texas Railroad Commission

Energy & Environment
8:43 am
Tue February 25, 2014

Why You Should Pay Attention to the Race for Railroad Commission

Charles Matthews served on the Railroad Commission of Texas from 1995 to 2005, including time as Chairman.
Credit Mose Buchele

From StateImpact Texas:   

In an often-quoted scene from the 2007 movie "There Will Be Blood," sociopathic oilman Daniel Plainview meets his rival for the last time. If oil fields are like milkshakes, he says, it pays to have a straw that reaches all the way across the room “and starts to drink your milkshake.”

“I. Drink. Your. Milkshake,” Plainview screams maniacally, “I DRINK IT UP!!!!”

This year, Texans will have the chance to vote for  a seat on the Railroad Commission of Texas. But the commission has a lot more to do with milkshakes than railroads. It regulates oil and gas in Texas.

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StateImpact Texas
9:34 am
Tue February 18, 2014

Exploring the Science Behind Manmade Quakes in Texas

This water tower in Timpson wasn't build to withstand earthquakes. "After 4.0 [on the Richter scale], we get pretty nervous," says Timpson's Mayor Debra Smith. "We have buildings up in town that over a hundred years old."
Terrence Henry/StateImpact Texas

From StateImpact Texas: 

The North Texas towns of Reno and Azle have seen over thirty earthquakes since November, sometimes more than one a day. It’s been unsettling for residents like Barbara Brown.

“Damage to my home, sinkholes on my property. Nerves! And a lot of angst,” she said. “Because you just don’t know when they’re going to happen again.”

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StateImpact Texas
3:20 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

Amid a Surge of Texas Earthquakes, Oil and Gas Regulators to Hire a Seismologist

Railroad Commissioner David J. Porter asked the commission to "begin a nationwide search to find the best candidate" for a seismologist.
Mose Buchele for KUT

In today’s meeting of the Railroad Commission of Texas, the state Agency that regulates the Texas oil and gas industry, Commissioner David Porter announced the search for a staff seismologist in response to the rash of small earthquakes that have sprung up throughout the state along with the boom in oil and gas production.

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StateImpact Texas
12:30 pm
Thu January 2, 2014

Town Hall Tonight Will Take on North Texas Earthquakes

Residents around Eagle Mountain Lake outside of Fort Worth have had a shaky few months. Dozens of small earthquakes have struck the area out of the blue. The Dallas-Fort Worth area is not known as a place that’s prone to earthquakes. In fact, before 2007, there were no recorded earthquakes in the area. Since then, there have been hundreds.

Studies of other swarms of earthquakes to the south in Johnson County and around the Dallas-Fort Worth airport have shown disposal wells to be the culprit, where wastewater from oil and gas drilling is injected deep underground. Inject enough wastewater, at the right pressure, and it can cause quiet faults to slip, resulting in earthquakes.

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Texas
10:21 am
Mon January 28, 2013

Should Oil & Gas Inspectors Carry Concealed Weapons?

Railroad Commission chair Barry Smitherman recently posted this image to his Facebook page.
facebook.com/SmithermanTX

State Regulator Smitherman: 'Much Interest' in Gun Training

As part of the debate over guns and violence, there’s a new twist developing in Texas: the head of one state agency is proposing that its employees should be provided training so they can legally carry a concealed handgun on the job.

The agency has inspectors that enforce the rules on the state’s surging oil and gas drilling industry.

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Austin
8:57 am
Wed February 29, 2012

AM Update: Moontowers Temporarily Vanish, Ron Paul's Michigan Finish, Texas' New Railroad Commish

One of Austin's historic moontowers. Austin Energy is refurbishing towers recently removed due to a construction project.
Photo courtesy flickr.com/wadeferd

Moontowers Temporarily Taken Down

An Austin moontower on the corner of West 22nd and Nueces streets has been temporarily dismantled due to a nearby construction project, and another on the corner of Trinity and Cesar Chavez is slated to move over to Third and Red River.

Austin is the only city in the world that still operates under a moonlight tower lighting system, made up of those ethereal structures that provide large areas of illumination and – as every "Dazed and Confused" fan knows – the occasional party.  According to the Austin American-Statesman, Austin Energy plans to refurbish the towers that have been removed, and because of their designation in the National Register of Historic Places, any repairs have to be historically accurate. You can read more from KUT News about the towers.

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Texas
2:51 pm
Tue November 8, 2011

Texas Oil Regulators Scrap Concealed Firearms Ban

Photo courtesy of Texas Tribune

 

Texas Railroad Commission employees will now be able to carry concealed firearms as they go about their work, following a unanimous vote on Tuesday by the three commissioners.

"[Railroad Commission] employees often work alone in remote and desolate areas of the state where they may encounter criminals or dangerous wild animals," Barry Smitherman, the newest commissioner, said in a statement. "The least we can do is allow them to exercise their legal right to carry firearms in accordance with state law.”

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Texas
4:39 pm
Fri November 4, 2011

Audit: State Inspected Only 65 Percent of High Priority Pipelines

Photo by rcbodden http://www.flickr.com/photos/rcbodden/

With 270,000 miles of gas and oil pipelines in Texas, how closely do you think the state is monitoring the lines under its supervision? Consider that two deadly pipeline accidents happened last year in Johnson County and the Panhandle.

According to a new report from the Texas State Auditor, the Texas Railroad Commission (TRC) inspected 65 percent of high priority pipeline systems. The report also found that the TRC’s own inspection plan is incomplete and lacks accuracy.

However, the report found that the TRC inspection regime was “substantially in compliance” with state and federal regulations.

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Politics
4:44 pm
Fri July 8, 2011

Perry Names Smitherman to Railroad Commission

Photo by PUC Commissioner

Gov. Rick Perry is moving Barry Smitherman from the Public Utility Commission to the Texas Railroad Commission, replacing Michael Williams, who resigned earlier this year to run for Congress. Smitherman was sworn into office this afternoon by Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett.

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