The Texas Railroad Commission is the most powerful state agency in Texas, providing regulatory oversight of a fourth of the state’s economy, and over industrial concerns that employ nearly 15% of working Texans. The absurd political side-show in Washington notwithstanding, it is clear that both Texas and the nation are at the beginning of a major economic revitalization … a revitalization that will be driven by rapidly-increasing production of hydrocarbons from shales. Shale production promises to be a major component of our Texas economy. It also promises to deliver ultra-cheap energy that is predicted to spur a major US manufacturing resurgence, giving us a significant advantage in an increasingly competitive world economy.

Many are aware of the potential benefits of shale production, as well as the current public debates about the possible impacts of hydraulic fracturing. There is less awareness, however, of the factors that enabled the US and Texas to be leaders in the development of these transformative new shale production technologies – private ownership of mineral rights combined with a highly-competitive, diverse, and creative oil and gas industry. Texas alone has over 10,000 operating companies, and a very robust and efficient oilfield services sector.

There is also less awareness of the complex technological changes that are rapidly supplanting traditional methods of oil and gas production – moving from an industry based on explore and exploit, to one that looks more like manufacturing. But these changes are also bringing new regulatory challenges as well as concerns among voters about the future of their land and our natural resources. I believe it is vitally important that the Texas Railroad Commission be able to fully comprehend and appreciate the technological issues around this transformation, so as to best serve the people of Texas – protecting individual liberties, property rights, and our natural resources as our shale resources are being developed.

The people of Texas deserve a Railroad Commissioner who will serve with integrity, common sense, and a deep knowledge of the technical intricacies of the future of oil and gas production. The people of Texas deserve a Railroad Commissioner who will place the protection of personal and economic liberty for all Texans at the forefront of their responsibilities.

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