Reports detail the Texas Railway Commissioners’ relationship with the oil and gas industry

A series of reports from a group of activists allege that all three members of the Texas Railways Commission are closely linked to the oil and gas industry.

The Non-Profit Commission Shift, in a series of reports with Technology and Public Justice, said the Railway Commission was a “captured” agency – heavily hijacked and controlled by the industry, making it no longer able to effectively control it.

Of the many findings of the Commission Shift, all three commissioners received more than 60% of campaign donations from companies or individuals directly or indirectly affiliated with the oil and gas industry.

It has also been reported that some members of the business community are not involved in private or indirect business dealings.

Commission Shift has called for stricter rules on commissioners who are barred from voting, and more specific financial statements and campaign contributions prohibiting companies waiting to appear before the board for donations to candidates or commissioners. Texas also proposed similar rules to Oklahoma, requiring members of the Oil and Gas Regulatory Board to leave the industry.

Virginia Pallasios, Director General of the Shift Commission:

The three consecutive reports indicate that all three commissioners are affiliated with the oil and gas industry. The surprisingly named Railway Commission has nothing to do with trains and is the state’s largest regulator of the state’s oil and gas industry.

Unlike most Texas regulatory boards, its members are elected in state elections. Many see the Railway Commission as a stepping stone to higher office.

In a series of three reports released in recent months, the Commission Shift detailed the personal finances of each Railway Commissioner and examined the personal financial reports of selected officials required to register with the Texas Ethics Commission.

All three commissioners responded to questions from the Dallas Morning News about the Commission’s Shift findings and their relationship with the oil and gas industry. All three responded to the commission’s criticism, saying it had not been able to control the industry or change its decision.

Some commissioners say the reports are biased, with Commissioner Jim Wright questioning the motives behind the commission’s Shift research.

Laredo was founded nine months ago. The main donors are non-profit foundations affiliated with the Oil and Gas Fund Partnership, Environmental Protection and Conservation. The sponsor of the budget is the Rockefeller Family Foundation, which also runs local charities.

Pallasios told the Dallas Morning News that the conclusions were all based on public documents published on the site.

Combining the reports, the Commission Shift has established an in-depth relationship between Commissioner Christ Cradic and the oil and gas industry. This is not surprising when we look at the family name.

Cradic is the daughter of a longtime minister of the Texas House, Representative Tom Cradic, former speaker. The Midland family is affiliated with a number of oil and gas companies, and Christy Cradic’s financial statements show numerous oil contracts and shares in oil companies.

Commission Shift Estimates Cradic owns at least $ 1.5 million in the oil and gas industry, although this figure could be significantly higher due to regulations on financial statements that do not require the exact amount of dollars.

“According to the Texas Ethics Commission, my personal financial statements are fully disclosed to the letter of the law and are open to the public,” Cradic said in a statement. “The Texas Code of Ethics Commission ensures transparency of our government officials and the public’s confidence in our ability to govern effectively and I take these laws seriously.”

The reports also state that Wright has a stake in oil and gas waste disposal companies, and that the commission oversees it. It also highlighted its efforts with the Texas Department of Public Safety to promote the use of recycled oil products in road maintenance.

Wright called some of the Commission’s shift allegations “false and deliberately misleading,” and concluded that their conclusion was “absurd” in relation to the promotion of oil waste for road construction.

“As a candidate for office and as a new member of the Railways Commission, I believe my decisions will benefit the government and our citizens. Time,” Wright said. “It is important for me to maintain public trust without compromising my personal integrity, and I am determined to abide by all laws and regulations governed by state law and administered by the Texas Ethics Commission.”

Wayne Christian, chairman of the Railways Commission, had little exposure to the oil and gas industry, much less direct and indirect than Wright or Cradic.

“My entire investment portfolio includes mutual funds and other similar accounts, which are controlled by a third party registered with the US Securities and Exchange Commission,” Christian said. “My personal statement (quote used by Commission Shift) is a screenshot over time and may be different on any given day.”

The Commission Shift and Texans reviewed the current and former Railway Commissioner reports on the financial contributions received by the campaign for public justice from 2015 to 2020. He confirmed that 67% of those donations came from the oil and gas industry.

By comparison, the oil and gas industry contributed 21% to the Gregorian government campaign from 2017 to 2020, according to Texans for Public Justice.

“I think this is a big red flag for Texas, especially for those affected by oil and gas development,” said Palacioios, head of the commission’s Shift.

A series of reports indicate that the Railways Commission is undergoing a major investigation recently. Commissioners have withstood criticism over the February massacre that killed at least 210 Texasans.

The incident led to the termination of each member of the Public Utilities Commission as well as the head of the Texas Electricity Grid operator. But according to elected officials, railway commissioners managed to escape the cold guillotine. The chairman of the Railways Commission, Christian, will be elected next year and will face at least one candidate and a Democrat in the Republican election, if he enters the general election.

The big gas industry has been able to avoid much criticism. During the winter, new regulations focused more on electricity suppliers and grid work. Natural gas producers have been given extensive latitude on climate standards, and as winter approaches, the Railways Commission has yet to take any concrete steps to ensure the reliability of Texas’ vast natural gas infrastructure.

The commission is expected to finalize new climate change regulations by November 30. One is to fill a one-page free-release application for natural gas producers and include a gap left by lawmakers’ “$ 150 fee.” Achilles heel.

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