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Railroad Commissioner
Article By: by Texas State Rep. Larry Phillips
Posted: 8/22/2014 Views: 1736  Impressions: 18622
Categories: Government: State

This November, Texas voters will elect someone new to most of the state-wide offices: the Office of the Governor; Lieutenant Governor, Comptroller, Agriculture Commissioner, Land Commissioner, and Railroad Commissioner. Over the next several weeks, I will talk about the duties and powers of each office, and how the office effects the lives of Texans.
The Railroad Commission of Texas was established in 1891 under a constitutional and legislative mandate to prevent discrimination in railroad charges and establish reasonable tariffs. It is the oldest regulatory agency in the state and one of the oldest of its kind in the nation.
Over the years, the Commission's jurisdiction grew to encompass many activities: oil and gas production and transportation (1919), gas utilities (1920), buses and trucks (1931), liquefied petroleum gas (1939), surface mining and reclamation (1976), and alternate fuels research (1991.) Today, the real power of the Railroad Commission is not related to the railroad industry, but in its authority over the oil and gas industry.
Through its Oil and Gas Division, the commission regulates the exploration, production, and transportation of oil and natural gas in Texas. Its statutory role is to prevent waste of the state's natural resources, to protect the correlative rights of different interest owners, to prevent pollution, and to provide safety in matters such as hydrogen sulfide. These roles are fulfilled through such regulatory actions as permitting for well drilling, testing of wells, and abandoned well plugging. Most recently, the Commission has overseen the development of new technologies that have created the current energy boom.
The Railroad Commission is governed by three commissioners elected at-large by the citizens of Texas. Railroad Commissioners are elected to six-year staggered terms with one Commissioner seeking election every two years. You can find more information on the Commission and its jurisdiction on its website at
For more information on this select committee or any other matter of state government, please contact my office by writing to P.O. Box 2910, Austin, TX 78768-2910 or by emailing me at My district office phone number is (903) 891-7297.

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