The Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC) oversees the state’s oil and natural gas development, coal and uranium mining, and natural gas utility service.
Too often, the commission has focused on speeding up oil and gas development at the expense of safety, economic vitality, natural resources, and the environment.
Our new series with Texans for Public Justice, Captive Agency, studies personal financial statements from the three railroad commissioners to see how close they are to the industries they oversee.
We found systemic problems with the railroad commission’s conflict of interest policies. Agency policies let sitting commissioners profit from the companies that they oversee, undermining the balanced governance of the oil and gas industry.
It’s time to prevent real or perceived ethical breaches, improve transparency, and regain public trust.
The first report focused on personal financial statements submitted by Railroad Commissioner Christi Craddick, demonstrating her close ties to the oil and gas industry she oversees.
The second report in the series looks at Commission Chair Wayne Christian’s personal financial statements to spot where he may have potential conflicts of interest. This report also goes into greater detail on campaign contributions received by all three commissioners, and shares stories of cases where the commissioners made decisions while collecting campaign contributions throughout the duration of the case.
The third report focuses on Commissioner Jim Wright’s personal financial statements, where he reported active interests in 18 oil and gas waste companies. Some of these companies have had recurring issues before his agency. Wright revived a task force in his first few months as a commissioner, in an apparent effort to change Railroad Commission rules that protect water supplies from the types of waste facilities he operates. In April, he voted to re-permit a waste facility that had committed repeated violations and received multiple public health complaints, despite the fact that he does business with that company.