An Abandoned Oil Well Springs Back To Life, Throwing One West Texas Rancher Into A Battle Over Her Land’s Future

One of the agency’s core tenets, according to a spokesperson, is the “protection of public safety and the environment.” But critics of the regulator, like Virginia Palacios, question how good the agency is at doing its job. Palacios is the executive director of Commission Shift, a nonprofit dedicated to holding the railroad commission accountable.

“I don’t think we have a system we can trust right now,” she lamented.

According to Palacios, the state’s oil and gas regulator has serious problems ranging from conflicts of interest among top officials to reacting slowly to industry violations. In some cases, it’s taken years for the agency to resolve situations concerning pollution stemming from oil and gas production.

“I see people asking for help from the railroad commission and not getting it,” Palacios said. “Landowners are sitting here, community members are sitting here kind of waiting for justice, experiencing health impacts and it isn’t fair.”

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