Nov. 02–Heading into her bid for re-election, Christi Craddick, who chairs the Texas Railroad Commission, says her experience makes her the right choice for the job.
Craddick was first elected in 2012 to one of three seats on the Texas Railroad Commission, the state agency that regulates the oil and gas industry. The commissioners selected her as chairman in 2014.
She is running for re-election to the commissioner seat against Democrat Roman McAllen, a preservation officer from Denton, and Libertarian Mike Wright, a retired businessman from Houston.
Craddick spoke with the Tyler Morning Telegraph at a get-out-the-vote event at a private residence in Tyler on Thursday. She is one of several candidates on Tuesday’s ballot to make stops in Tyler since early voting started Oct. 22.
“I think having an understanding of the oil and gas industry, having grown up in it, you understand what’s important. Not having to relearn the lingo and understand what we do as an agency, I think, is a bonus and probably a priority when you’re trying to walk into an agency.”
Craddick called the Railroad Commission the most important agency in the state because of the strength of the Texas oil and gas industry right now. She said $30 million a day is coming into Texas because of the industry, which produces one-third of the nation’s oil and one-fourth of the nation’s natural gas.
The agency’s regulatory activities include permitting, and enforcing safety measures on gas pipelines and oil drilling. The agency also regulates coal mining, which is prevalent in East Texas, and is involved in remediation of mines that are no longer usable. The agency has no involvement with the railroad industry.
While the agency has many functions, Craddick said she describes it as an educator that works as a partner with the oil and gas industry to tell them what the rules are and make sure they are operating in accordance with them. At the same time, she said the commission retains “a pretty big stick” in the power to stop companies from operating in the state.
“I think that we have a good partnership with the industry,” Craddick said. “If you’ve got a spill, we want as an agency, we come out, we inspect — you hopefully have self-reported that you spilled. If not we’ve come out and we found it. We want you to clean it up as, an agency. We want to give you an opportunity to remediate the problem.
“We’re going to probably penalize you, and we have a very active enforcement division, but we want you to continue to create jobs and pay taxes, and so we don’t want to shut you down,” she said. “We want you to continue to figure out how to operate within our rules.”
In terms of the agency’s administration, Craddick said she helped the agency advocate in front of the Legislature for increased funding and increased staff at the agency, including in community outreach positions.
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