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Railroad Commissioner

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    Steve Brown (D) Director, Small Business Initiatives

  • Candidate picture

    Mark A. Miller (L) Petroleum engineer and small business owner

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    Martina Salinas (G) Construction Inspector

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    Ryan Sitton (R) Mechanical Engineer

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Biographical Information

Length of residency in Texas:

Occupation/main source of income:

Education (include all degrees):

Highlights of current civic involvement/accomplishment:

Highlights of past civic involvement/accomplishment:

Previous public offices sought or held:

How much funding have you raised for your campaign?

Who are your top three contributors?

Have you ever been arrested or involved in any criminal proceedings? If so, please explain:

Have you ever been involved in any civil lawsuits or declared personal or professional bankruptcy? If so, please explain:

What is an example of how you led a team or group toward achieving an important goal?

What political leader do you most admire and why?

Why are you running for this office?

Why should voters choose you over your opponent?

Railroad commissioners have been criticized for taking money from the oil and gas industry that they regulate. Are there specific promises on political contributions you would make or rules you would propose to assure voters you are acting independently?

Would you support or oppose rules limiting the solicitation and receipt of campaign contributions by a commissioner or candidate to within 18 months of an election, rather than throughout the full six-year term?

Should commissioners be prohibited from knowingly accepting contributions from a party with a contested case before the commission?

Some say the Railroad Commission doesn’t hand out enough penalties for violations and lacks consistent measurements for severity or repeat offenses. What would you do to make sure enforcement has teeth?

What is the biggest challenge facing the Railroad Commission and how would you remedy it?

Should the commission develop a comprehensive energy plan for Texas? If so, what should be the thrust of that plan?

If it is proven that waste water injection wells from fracking cause earthquakes, what regulatory steps should the Railroad Commission take?

What is your position on man-made climate change? What should be done to prepare Texas for tighter national and international climate change rules?

How do you assess the environmental impact of drilling for natural gas? And how do you weigh the cost-benefit ratio?

What specific regulations on natural gas drilling do you support?

City/Town Missouri City, TX
Age 42
Campaign Phone Number (832) 786-9671
I've lived in Texas since 1986.
Director, Small Business Initiatives with the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County
North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University Major: Political Science Minor: Economics
Steve serves on the Missouri City Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone #3, and is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc.
Steve Brown has devoted his adult life to being a dependable public advocate. His experience includes: Chairman of the Fort Bend County Democratic Party Board Member, Youth Development Center Board Member, Fort Bend YMCA Volunteer YMCA Basketball Coach American Heart Association Vice President for Public Advocacy Budget Analyst for the Texas House Appropriations Committee White House Congressional Liaison
Steve was elected to two terms (4 years) as Chairman of the Fort Bend County Democratic Party, and received the most countywide votes in the 2012 Democratic Primary behind President Obama.
$50,000
Bobby English AFL-CIO James Donatto
No
No
While the Vice President of Public Advocacy at the American Heart Association - Texas Affiliate, I led a team that passed groundbreaking legislation related to Stroke Treatment/Prevention, Childhood Obesity and Smoking Cessation. We were successful because we built a diverse coalition of stakeholders, established mutual goals and empowered grass-root advocates to contact key decision makers.
John F. Kennedy. Pres. Kennedy inspired generations of Americans to become more civically active. Our Democracy is strongest when citizens are engaged in civic and electoral activities. Pres. Kennedy challenged us to do more, get involved and make a difference.
Steve is running to be the public advocate who will elevate the concerns of the people and work with the energy industry to find the best solutions for Texas. Over the last several years we’ve experienced a boom in the oil and gas industry, which has greatly benefited Texas. But economic prosperity has produced challenges that are affecting local communities. Steve will balance energy industry influence with the needs of landowners, community stakeholders and the preservation of our water resources. He will seek common ground and ensure that all Texans have a voice in our energy future.

Voters have a clear choice between two opposing philosophies. Ryan Sitton, Steve’s opponent, is the ultimate energy insider. His campaign is financed by the industry he wants to regulate. His first priority will be to protect the interests of the oil and gas insiders.

Steve is not an industry insider. He practices the politics of fairness and has a plan to reform the Railroad Commission. He will balance energy industry influence with the needs of landowners, community stakeholders and the preservation of our water resources. Steve will seek common ground and ensure that all Texans have a voice in our energy future.
This Summer, we outlined a set of proposals aimed at transforming the Commission into the consumer advocacy agency it was created to be. Regulatory agencies should be beyond reproach, completely transparent and fair to everyone. To that end, Steve has proposed shortening the fundraising window to one month per year for Commissioners not up for re-election, and prohibiting a Commissioner from knowingly accepting a contribution from an entity with a contested case before the Commission. Steve also supports the expansion of the Railroad Commission's recusal policy to ensure conflicts of interest don’t exist. Modifications would include having a Commissioner recuse themselves from a vote if they’ve had a financial or personal relationship with a business within a year of that vote, and to clearly disclose the reason in writing.

Steve is proposing a shorter fundraising window. Currently, a Commissioner can receive campaign contributions every month throughout the six-year term. This makes it difficult to assure the public that Commission decisions are made solely in the public’s interest, not simply in favor of large donors. By limiting a Commissioner’s ability to solicit or receive campaign contributions during an election cycle to an 18-month period, Commissioners not up for re-election will be limited to fundraising only one month out of the year. This is one of several reforms to the Commission that was vetted during the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission’s review process in 2013.
The Railroad Commission should prohibit a Commissioner from knowingly accepting a contribution from a party with a contested case before the Commission.
The Railroad Commission has failed to reassure the public that it can police bad actors in the oil and gas industry. We need to increase the number of inspectors in the field, and make sure they have the tools to properly monitor daily activity. When violations occur we need to act decisively to deter future transgressions. It's in everyone's best interest that this agency establishes industry best practices and requires businesses to consistently meet or exceed them.
The Railroad Commission is broken. Instead of serving Texas as the consumer advocacy agency it was founded to be, the Railroad Commission has become an energy industry accommodator. For too long, the deep pockets of industry insiders have stifled the voices of everyday Texans. It is difficult to assure the public that Commission decisions are made solely in the public’s interest, not simply in favor of large donors of campaign cash.

The agency’s current name confuses the public and does not reflect its important regulatory duties at a time of significant expansion of drilling in the state. Renaming the Railroad Commission the Texas Energy Resources Commission (TERC) would echo the duties of the Railroad Commission.

The Commission needs to be restructured to regain the public’s confidence and trust. This is a 20th century agency trying to regulate a 21st century industry. In addition, the agency is woefully understaffed. I’ll work with the legislature to increase funding and adopt policies to recruit and retain qualified staff across the state.

The permit notification process needs to be standardizing across the board. The Commission should establish procedures giving citizens a louder voice and more influence in the process. In addition, the pubic should be given sufficient time and opportunities to comment prior to determining the final status of a case.

Establish a new Commission office: the Office of Public Advocacy. This office will represent citizens with claims before our hearing examiners – from eminent domain and mineral rights disputes.

Yes. A comprehensive energy plan should be guided by sustainability, safety, environmental stewardship and funding for research and innovation. It would include exploring alternate energy sources like wind and solar.
The Railroad Commission should review best practices enacted by other states involved in fracking. That could include geological surveys and water tests at nearby aquifers/wells before drilling or injection wells are permitted. Then the Commission should asses these best practices and determine what rules will work best for Texas.

Most importantly, during this assessment, the Commission should work directly with local municipal and community leaders in the shale areas to establish setback requirements and disposal methods. We cannot continue the ineffective reactionary approach currently used by the Commission.
Human activity has contributed to climate change. We need to first establish that a sustainable energy future for our state and nation is possible, and then build coalitions to develop a plan that's both economically feasible and environmentally safe.
There are clear unintended consequences related to drilling. The Railroad Commission has to get serious about mitigating potential risks in order to protect private property, public safety and ensuring that the next generation of Texans enjoy the environment that they inherit.
We need to improve how the public is notified of a pending permit application and ensure that stakeholders have the opportunity to provide comments early in the process.
City/Town Austin
Age 66
Campaign Phone Number (512) 402-2746
Fax Number None
31 years
CEO and CTO, Promethean Technologies Group, LLC, a computer software company
BS Engineering, Harvey Mudd College PhD Petroleum Engineering, Stanford University
Active in Libertarian Party of Texas
Various committee memberships, Society of Petroleum Engineers; Member, Helium Reserve Committee, National Research Council; Board Member, Jung Society of Austin; Officer, High School Orchestra Parents Association; Cubmaster
None
$750 plus additional personal funds
Gale and Barbara Woods; Morris Covington; Mark Miller
No
No
Just over two years ago, I started and led (as CEO) a company to commercially produce a highly technical software application. I brought together a team of professionals to rapidly develop a significant complex piece of engineering software. Our first commercial product was successfully delivered in around 15 months.

Also, as an Assistant and Associate Professor of petroleum engineering at UT Austin for 18 years, I led a research team of graduate students to successful conclusions of their research as well as completion of their degrees. A total of 15 PhD and 52 MS students completed their research and received degrees under my supervision.
Nelson Mandela. He successfully led his country through an immensely difficult time. He did so by dealing with his personal feelings and biases, putting the needs of his constituents first, finding pragmatic solutions, and ensuring that everyone’s rights were protected.
Texas is at the beginning of its latest oil and gas boom, a boom that will likely be long-lived. The Railroad Commission (and perhaps even the State) has been slow to adapt to the rapidly-advancing technologies that brought about this boom. The industry is changing rapidly and the Commission needs to change as well. The public is increasingly impacted as well as increasingly fearful of oil and gas operations. Many distrust a Commission they believe may be overly beholden to the oil and gas industry they regulate. I want to begin the process of restoring the public’s trust so that the Railroad Commission can be seen as competently and fairly administering its regulatory functions … for the benefit of my children, my grandchildren, and all Texans.
Because of my extensive petroleum engineering experience and expertise, I am far more qualified than any of my three opponents. I am also the only candidate who truly believes in limited government whose responsibilities should be focused solely on protecting public safety, our common natural resources, the rights of all property owners, and the right to engage in free and prosperous commerce. A truly free society is only possible when everyone’s liberties are fought for, even, and perhaps especially, when they conflict.
I have pledged to personally follow Sunset Commission recommendations with regard to political contributions, and have called upon my opponents to do the same. In addition, I inform potential contributors that I will recuse myself from any contested case before the Commission where an entity’s employees and associates in total contributed more than 1% of my campaign donations.
I support this rule and have personally pledged to abide by it, regardless of whether it is passed by the Texas Legislature or endorsed by the Commission.
Yes. Should I find myself to have unknowingly received contributions from a party with a contested case, I have pledged to recuse myself.
Consistent penalties for offenses are important for maintaining the rule of law. Though appropriate penalties for rules violations are important, I believe that more “teeth” should come in the form of transparency (e.g., increased public disclosure) and full restitution for damages. The Railroad Commission may have limited statutory authority to require restitution. Additional legislative authority may need to be sought.
The biggest challenge the Commission faces is a huge deficit of public trust. The Commission has justifiably earned a reputation within the oil and gas industry of being a fair and impartial arbiter of its “inside baseball” conflicts. It is absolutely imperative that the Commission be seen as serving all of Texas. The Commission must earn the same trust with the public as it has within the oil and gas industry. Increased transparency, regulatory reform, and increased focus on surface property rights would do much to help.
I do not believe that Texas needs a comprehensive energy plan. Energy production and consumption should, as with most everything else, occur in a free, open, and competitive marketplace. Public policies that encourage or discourage any forms of energy production or consumption over others would inevitably benefit the most well-connected political cronies at the expense of the rest of the State.
It has already been established that waste water injection (regardless of the source of the water) can, in some special cases, induce earthquakes. Two different regulatory steps would seem prudent. First, when earthquake activity is deemed likely to have been caused by one or more wells in a local area, the Railroad Commission should be able to immediately gather additional data from well operators and if deemed prudent order (or at the very least publicly advise) operators to immediately either alter or cease operations. Longer-term, additional scientific studies and rule-making activities will be required to determine to what extent it is possible to predict areas of the subsurface that are at risk for earthquakes being induced by injection.
There is considerable evidence that the earth is warming (continuously, in fact, since the Little Ice Age ended around 1850). Computer modeling by the world’s best climatologists suggest a primary cause is man-made carbon dioxide (though their models failed to predict the recent leveling off of global temperatures). The most cost-effective and efficient way for the US to decrease carbon dioxide emissions in the short run is by increasing use of natural gas in lieu of coal. Texas is in an excellent position to provide long-term supplies of gas necessary for this transition. Given the projected large costs and the political realities facing the development of a world-wide consensus to pay for the enormous cost of significantly decreasing carbon dioxide emissions, Texas should also begin planning on how best to cope with future climate change.
The primary environmental issues associated with natural gas drilling include: 1) wellbores that penetrate groundwater intervals, 2) spills from surface operations, and 3) air pollution from drilling, completion, and production operations. All of these are manageable problems, though there is no way to absolutely prevent unexpected failures, poor operations, and sometimes just plain “bad actors”. With appropriate regulations and safeguards in place, however, the benefits of hydrocarbon production far outweigh its actual and potential environmental impacts.
A number of appropriate regulations on natural gas drilling in Texas are already in place. There are, however, additional actions that would seem prudent. First, through both private and public means, a public database of air and water quality data should be developed to adequately monitor changes in air and water quality resulting from oil and gas operations throughout the State. Second, reasonable regulations should be implemented to mitigate unnecessary discharges and leaks of natural gas during drilling and production operations.
City/Town Fort Worth, TX
Age 39
Email Address salinastxrr@gmail.com
I am a native Texan, and have lived here all my life.
I currently work as a Construction Inspector in the Dallas/Forth Worth area.
Bachelors of Science in Civil Technology-Construction Management; University of Houston.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
none
$800+
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
No
No
I would research individuals' past/current duties and achievements. Confer with individual team members on their specific goals. Then I would assign roles/tasks considering the specific merits of the goal. After assignment I would assume a supportive role and step in when needed. Success is achieved by using your strengths and building on your weaknesses.
President George Washington and President Abraham Lincoln. Politicians are not my favorite people. Washington and Lincoln were leaders of men not politicians. As a Laredo girl, I grew up celebrating the life of George Washington every year during our annual Washington Birthday Celebration and that lead to a deep appreciation of the man. President Washington did not let politics determine his decisions. He did what was best for the country. Like most school children in the USA, I learned about the simple and great life of Abraham Lincoln, but I was truly impressed to learn, during my U. S. History I at Texas A & M taught by Instructor Snyder, that Lincoln spent this first and only term in Congress questioning the legitimacy of the Mexican War by demanding to know the exact spot where U.S. blood had been spilled. Even though he had to known that his unpopular views could cause him a second term Lincoln stay true to his sense of fairness. For that action among others, I admire his persistence and tendentious.
I, like most Texas citizens believe that the Railroad Commission as been slow to react and response to the concerns of Texas residents. The commission needs to realign itself and get back to its original intent; which is to advocate for the citizens of Texas. The Texas Railroad Commission was established by Governor Jim Hogg and the Texas legislature in the 1890s to protect the rights of Texas citizens against a big industry. Current public perception is that the commission is holding industry interest over that of private individuals.
Foremost, I am not a industry insider, nor do I plan to be a career politician. My only alliance is to the citizens of Texas. My sole vested interest is to protect the rights of private citizens.
To ensure public trust all commissioners need to avoid a conflict of interest.
I do support shortening the time that campaign donations are accepted, since public officials need to focus on their duties and responsibilities to the citizens of Texas and not on fundraising.
Yes, since a commissioners sole duty should be to the citizens of Texas anything that erodes the public trust should be avoided. Public officials need to avoid any conflict of interest.
Prevention is key in ensuring that only safe, reputable, and responsible companies are operating in Texas. I believe that if Texas vetted companies before issuing permits, just as most Texas cities vet construction companies before awarding a contract, the majority of violations would be avoided. Companies could be required to submit past work histories and past or pending lawsuits in other states. Otherwise, the commission should set up some sort of three strikes rule that would deny or delay the issuance of drilling permits to any company with the same company officers.
The commission biggest challenge is the lack of public trust. The commission needs to start holding the rights of Texas citizens over the interest of industry.
Texas needs to become a leader in developing sustainable energy by promoting and providing incentives for developing efficient renewable energy such as solar and wind. Sustainable and responsible energy development is needed to ensure national security and energy independence.
The state needs to be pro-active and form a task force consisting of residents, environmental, and industry to address this situation. There are many issues that will have to be dealt with when it is proven that the earthquakes were a result of fracking operations. One of the most pressing and complex issues will be, who will pay for repairs to damaged structures. The cost of damages assessed should not fall on property owners.
Relying on fossil fuel energy is unsustainable and irresponsible. Responsible stewardship and sustainable development of our resources are needed. Once Texas can rely on renewable energy for the majority of its consummation questions of climate change become moot.
Assessing environment impact is challenging, but I believe baseline air and water testing and continued testing during drilling operations/production are a good start. Weighing cost-benefits is also difficult, more research needs to be done, especially since some studies in other states are finding a link between gas/oil operations/production and deteriorating public health in local communities. Good water to drink, good air to breathe, and a general well-being are without price to me as they should be to everyone else.
Among the regulations I support for natural gas drilling here are a few: *Public disclosure of all Material Data Safety Sheets *Reforming the use of Eminent Domain and Common Carrier Status *Requiring Baseline Air and Water Testing *Requiring the use of recycled and salt water during hydraulic fracturing operations *Mandating construction standards especially for disposal wells *Requiring more inspections and testing during disposal well construction *Requiring all oil and gas companies to submit hazardous materials list to local fire departments *Mandating a fire/hazard fee, on all well and drill sites, to be used by local fire departments for training and equipment

City/Town I grew up in Irving, Texas but now live in Friendswood, Texas.
Age 42
Email Address campaign@ryansitton.com
I have lived in Texas my entire life. I grew up in Irving, went to college at Texas A&M and currently live in Friendswood with my wife Jennifer and three children.
I am a mechanical engineer that started a company with my wife in 2006. Our company performs asset integrity and reliability analysis to make sure that our customers' infrastructure is operating safely and as it was designed to operate. My wife and I own that company which we started out of the garage in our house and have grown to over 350 employees. I continue to serve as the President and CEO of the company.
High School at Cistercian Preparatory School in Irving, Texas. B.S. from Texas A&M University in Mechanical Engineering.
I am active in many civic and local community organizations, including serving on the board of directors of the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce, and the Texas A&M Mechanical Engineering Advisory council. Through my company, we support many local groups such as Sarah's House in Pasadena, the McDonalds Invitational Basketball Tournament, and the Pasadena Independent School District, where I have given numerous talks to children in local schools. Last year, our company sponsored (and I chaperoned) a trip for 30 Pasadena high school children to go and tour Texas A&M, to give them a taste of college life, and show them the opportunities there. This past scholastic year, I was honored when our company was awarded Pasadena ISD's industry partner of the year. From an industry perspective, I have been an active member of several organizations, including The Texas Alliance of Energy Producers (TAEP), American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and the American Petroleum Institute (API). Politically, I have been active in several groups, including serving on the Board of Directors of the Associated Republicans of Texas and the Pasadena Conservative Citizens Club. Finally, my wife and I are very active members of St. Andrews Episcopal Church in Pearland, Texas, where we teach Sunday school for kindergarten through 4th grade.
I served for two years on the board of directors of the Pasadena Chamber of commerce, and have worked with Junior Achievement.
2012 - State Representative HD 24
Between the Primary, Runoff, and General Election, I have raised approximately $1.7 million for this race.
My top three donors are Trammell Crow, Chris Faulkner, and Kelcy Warren. All of my contributors are disclosed and publicly available on the Texas Ethics Commission's website at: http://www.ethics.state.tx.us/.
No.
I have served as an expert witness on energy engineering issues in various lawsuits but have never been a plaintiff or defendant in civil litigation nor have I ever filed bankruptcy.
As a small business owner I've led our organization on a daily basis to achieve important goals. Our company has been recognized in Aggie 100 and the Inc. 5000 each of the past three years, as one of the fastest growing businesses in the world. Our company's constant and consistent commitment to excellence and customer service has helped us achieve remarkable growth in a very short period of time, becoming one of the industry leaders in reliability.
There are several political leaders that I admire, from Thomas Jefferson to recent political leaders. The consistent characteristic that they all share is a genuine dedication to the people that they served and a willingness to do the right thing regardless of political or personal risk. Ronald Reagan was the first two term president elected during my lifetime and the first president I paid close attention to. History has demonstrated that in spite of the low bar some set for him, his commitment to doing the right thing for the country no matter the cost to him personally is the kind of leadership we need in elective leaders at every level of government. In particular, President Reagan showed a tremendous ability to articulate a real vision for success and opportunity that we, as a country, could experience if we put in place the right policies. I believe that this ability is desperately needed in politics today.
I'm running to put my background and expertise to work for the people of Texas. I've worked in the energy industry for almost twenty years and have been incredibly blessed. I'm not running because I need a job. Texas and America have an incredible opportunity to shift the geopolitical landscape by going beyond energy independence to true leadership of global energy markets. This would, in turn, pay dividends in terms of international trade, economic stability, and even our national security. But this will only happen if we have experienced energy leadership developing policies that will allow the industry to thrive while at the same time keeping our citizens safe and confident in our energy development. If I can help achieve this, I would be very proud to have put my time, energy, and personal resources into this service.
I think voters are tired of career politicians who are running because they need a job. I hope voters will choose me because of my background, experience and expertise. Electing leaders to statewide office should be no different than hiring someone for any other job. We ought to make sure that the people we choose are the most competent and qualified that we can find. I will be the first engineer to serve as a railroad commissioner in 50 years. I am by far the most qualified candidate running for this office and I'm committed to making sure that the citizens of Texas have confidence in the way we are developing our natural resources in Texas.
In the wake of recent Supreme Court decisions I think it would be very difficult to limit people's ability to engage in the political process. I'm confident that voters will know I'm acting independently because I'm my campaign's biggest contributor, by far. I'm not beholden to anyone except the voters and I will always do what I think is in the best interest of the citizens of the state. We need to continue to have a very transparent system where people can see who is giving money to candidates and then monitor those candidates' actions. While it may not be a rule, I do plan to be very accessible to voters, operators, media representatives, and anyone else who has questions about the Railroad Commission. This would provide an added level of transparency to my actions and policies. Transparency is the best way to hold elected officials accountable.
I will support and follow whatever campaign finance laws are in place.
Yes.
Enforcement actions by the commission are an important agency function. My goal will be to put in place clear, consistent and fair rules so everyone understands what is expected of them. When people violate those rules they need to be held accountable. When they repeatedly and willfully violate those rules, there needs to be significant consequences. It only takes one bad actor to give everyone a bad name and that shouldn't be allowed to happen. Bad actors need to be dealt with quickly and seriously.
I think there are several big challenges facing the commission. The rapid expansion of new technology and drilling techniques has created a boom the likes of which we haven't seen for decades. That means the commission has more work to do with the same amount of resources. Ensuring that we have the right personnel, technology and capabilities to serve the citizens and industry is a notable challenge that we need to address quickly. However, the biggest challenge is ensuring that all Texas citizens are confident in our production processes, rules, and methodologies. To do this, we must move quickly to ensure that our rules are up to date, and that we are addressing questions or concerns of the public in the language of science and data, not politics. This includes performing the research required to provide solid answers, and be accessible to the public to discuss issues as they arise.
Absolutely. That is something that I have already talked about and that I plan to work on. The thrust of the plan needs to include a simple articulation of the opportunities available for Texas energy production, and how different energy sources can be developed. The plan also must lay out the keys to Texas and the rest of the United States achieving energy independence and energy market dominance. Through responsible production that protects our communities and environment, we can develop the necessary resources to dominate global energy prices like we did in the early and mid 1900's. Imagine if Texas natural gas were an alternative to Russian natural gas for the Europeans, what that could mean in situations like Crimea. If Putin could no longer finance his aggression in Crimea through the sale of natural gas because Texas natural gas was a viable alternative, think of what that could mean for America and the rest of the world.
First, we would obviously need to shut down the injection wells causing the earthquakes. Second, we should implement a system to determine potentially high risk seismic areas and evaluate future injection wells accordingly. The commission has taken steps to gather important information about injection wells to ensure that its decisions are based on sound science and data. It is important that every decision the commission makes be based on real data, sound facts, and science.
I think man-made climate change is unproven, and that the impacts of mankind, as opposed to natural global cycles, are still unknown. However, Texas absolutely must prepare for and continue to fight poor policies that seem to ignore the wide range of scientific theories, while treating a narrow range of theories as absolute. This has lead to some federal government agencies (like the EPA) to take steps that will have grave impacts on all Texans, particularly our poor. I am committed to working with the Attorney General to provide whatever data and science he needs that the commission can provide to ensure that Texas does not face dire consequences from these federal agencies. The quickest and most devastating way to destroy the Texas miracle would be to impose rules that drive up energy costs, shed jobs and stifle growth.
I think drilling for natural gas is safe, environmentally sound if done in accordance with commission rules, and absolutely vital to our energy future and national security. There is no question that the benefits to Texas are enormous. Although coal power is, and should continue to be a key part of our energy strategy, our growth in power generation from natural gas has lowered particulate and smog emissions per BTU substantially. Natural gas is the only reasonable "alternative" fuel that we can utilize in our transportation industry, and as such, has the potential to pay even bigger dividends down the road.
I support current commission regulations that require drilling for natural gas to be done in a safe and responsible way.