Sunset Review Suggests Changes, New Name at Railroad Commission
The Texas Railroad Commission should beef up its oversight of oil and gas drilling, pipeline safety and abandoned wells. And it should no longer regulate natural gas utilities — or keep calling itself the Railroad Commission, since it doesn’t deal with trains.
Those were among the recommendations published Friday by the Sunset Advisory Commission, the state legislative body that periodically reviews agencies.
Those suggestions should stoke a highly politicized debate about the future of the 125-year old agency — once among the country’s most powerful — that currently oversees petroleum production, natural gas utilities, pipeline safety and several types of mining.
“The agency and its place in history should be a source of pride for the commission and its hardworking staff and for the regulated oil and gas industry,” the report said. “But instead of looking back to its storied past, the agency now needs to look forward to the challenges of regulating energy resources in an environment of continued urbanization, water concerns, and possible seismic activity.”