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McCaul, Craddick: Lift the oil export ban

Houston Chronicle

Just a few years ago, many Americans felt hopeless that the U.S. would ever reduce its dependence on foreign energy. Relying on suppliers from unstable nations that don’t share our interests, consumers felt the effect of pricing volatility, violence and political instability hitting them at the gas pump with prices reaching $4.00 per gallon. For too long, we allowed hostile sources of energy to control our economy and dictate our foreign policy.

But true to the spirit of American ingenuity and innovation, U.S. oil producers fought back. In the past decade, industry has developed new technologies leading to a rapid turnaround in the development of domestic energy that is generating new economic opportunities and which could have a profound effect on our foreign policy. Unfortunately, energy producers can’t innovate their way around a federal ban on crude oil exports that restricts their right to free-market competition in international markets and creates an unleveled playing field for domestic oil production. As the industry innovates with technology, government must innovate with policy.

While America is now the world’s leading developer of oil and natural gas, U.S. law currently prohibits the export of crude oil. This means that domestic producers have only one buyer: domestic refiners who are not optimized to handle the type of “light sweet” crude oil being discovered.

In July, the U.S. produced crude at a faster pace than any time since the 1920s translating into record refining. Yet the number of drilling rigs is down by more than half and thousands of jobs have been slashed as the price of oil has tumbled; the result of a deliberate and calculated economic attack against U.S. producers, led by OPEC. Here in Texas, the oil and gas industry has felt the effects and has been forced to cut jobs in order to stay in business. In fact, newer sources of oil found in shale formations make up the majority of production in Texas today but are more costly to produce, leaving places like the Eagle Ford Shale hit even harder. This is costing tens of thousands of jobs and billions in revenues for families and communities in key producing states like Texas.

Understandably, motorists are happy about cheaper gasoline at the pump, but the cost to crude oil producers, their employees and our economy is huge. While the crude oil export ban may have made sense in the wake of the 1970s Arab Oil Embargo, this archaic policy is no longer justified given today’s market conditions. In fact, even President Obama’s Energy Information Administration predicts that repealing the ban would likely reduce gasoline prices further while expanding markets for independent producers to sell their product.

Energy is critical not only because it fuels our economy, but because it is vital to national security. Russia uses energy as a weapon to bully neighbors in Europe and Central Asia. We believe it is time for our abundant energy supply to set them free. The geopolitical benefits of American energy exports as a diplomatic tool will both make us stronger economically and provide critical support to our partners around the world.

It is a sad irony that the president’s agreement with the Islamic Republic of Iran allows the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism to export its oil, while prohibiting our companies from doing the same.

Regardless, President Obama likes to tout the growth of energy production during his tenure. He just doesn’t like to drill for it, transport it or allow American producers to sell it to the world. Lifting the ban on crude oil exports will mean greater energy independence, more jobs, lower gas prices and a boon to our economy. And, it will allow energy powerhouse states like Texas, for whom oil and gas contributes to more than 40 percent of its total economy, to fully drive the U.S. toward reaching its true oil-producing potential.

Around the world, our friends and allies are looking for the same thing we are here at home: a stable and reliable supply of American energy. Let’s put American jobs and American security first. Let’s end the ban on crude oil exports.

McCaul, a Republican, represents Texas District 10 in the U.S. House of Representatives. Craddick is a Texas railroad commissioner.

You can also read the full Houston Chronicle op-ed here.

Energy Industry Update: 84th Legislative Session

Texas Energy Industry Update

I remain incredibly encouraged by what I know the future holds for Texas’ mighty oil and gas industry.

While there is no way to predict how long the current price of oil might last, we can reflect on the direct production statistics we are seeing in Texas today. It is important that we credit the fast-paced, technologically driven spirit of the oil and gas industry and its innovation that has allowed for the recovery of more oil than ever before.

In the past few months we have seen a slight dip in permit applications which leads to fewer active rigs in the field. However, with the combined application of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, production levels are well above what they were prior to this new era of sustained growth. Production in Texas remains strong with more than 2.4 million barrels of oil produced on average per day each month thus far this year.

This sustained growth is different from the boom and bust we have seen in the past due to new techniques of mineral recovery, with production increasing as much as 30% in areas; mineral resources of all kinds that are valued and sold for a multitude of purposes in fulfilling our state’s energy needs; and critical pipeline infrastructure that continues to be developed across the state, avoiding a lag in progress toward the transport of product to market.

Texas is blessed to have not only vast mineral reserves, but an industry with a pioneering spirit, a strong regulatory structure, expert workforce, and well-developed infrastructure, all a part of what has become known as the Texas Miracle.

84th Legislative Session

The 84th Legislative Session ended Monday, June 1. With the period for which bills can be vetoed by Governor Greg Abbott fast approaching on Sunday, June 21, the legislature passed into law significant legislation related to energy regulation and production in Texas.

As Texas oil and gas production numbers remain high, communities continue to see the effects of increased production across the state. Key legislation will work to address certain issues associated with oil and gas development, including: further protection of Texas citizens and our natural resources; road infrastructure impacted by increased traffic related to production transportation; and, greater transparency with regard to the industry’s use of eminent domain authority.

Railroad Commission Budget and Regulation

One of the Railroad Commission’s top priorities during the legislative session has been to secure funding for the agency as we continue to raise our standards of service to both the public and Texas’ oil and gas industry during this busy time.

Over the last biennium, with help from the legislature during recent budgeting cycles, the Railroad Commission has made significant improvements toward a technology overhaul, increased staff support and efficiencies within our processes. The upcoming biennium’s appropriation will allow us to build on those achievements so that we are able to continue to effectively regulate the state’s biggest economic contributor.

House Bill 1 appropriates approximately $87 million in fiscal years 2016 and 2017 and 820 FTEs for the biennium. The funding includes the following exceptional items, with a focus on additional staff inspectors and IT program upgrades:

Fully funding the Commission is critical to the long term success of our oil and gas industry for the benefit of all Texans, and we look forward to continued work with the legislature toward this effort.

While economic gains are meaningless without the safety of our communities and resources, hydraulic fracturing bans hurt Texas and the U.S. energy sector as a whole. Without certainty of fair regulation, businesses will be far less willing to risk their capital, and as a result, Texas will lose jobs, tax revenues, and the opportunity for greater economic development. Furthermore, hydraulic fracturing, when well regulated, is safe and has been key to the enhanced development of oil and gas that we know today.

The Commission is required by delegated authority in state law to issue oil and gas permits. Once the Commission issues a permit to drill a well in Texas, operators must comply with a variety of local ordinances within communities in which they operate, allowing cities to police issues such as noise, traffic and safety setbacks from production areas.

In response to the City of Denton’s vote to ban hydraulic fracturing, House Bill 40 was passed. The bill provides express recognition of state pre-emption, confirming that the Railroad Commission is the ultimate authority in regulating oil and gas operations in Texas.

In addition to the passing of House Bill 40, this past April, I traveled to Washington D.C. to testify before the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space and Technology at their hearing entitled Hydraulic Fracturing: Banning Proven Technologies on Possibilities Instead of Probabilities. The banning of hydraulic fracturing by local ordinance is an important issue having a direct impact not only in Texas, but in states across the country. It is important to stress at the federal level and with our counterparts in other states that proper state regulatory structure and a strong working partnership with our local governments will ensure that any community’s concerns with regard to oil and gas drilling are properly managed.

House Bill 2 appropriates funds for the University of Texas at Austin, Bureau of Economic Geology (UT BEG) for the deployment and maintenance of the TexNet Seismic Monitoring program and modeling of reservoir behavior for systems of wells in the vicinity of faults and establishment of a technical advisory committee, which includes our Railroad Commission staff seismologist. Under this new program, the Railroad Commission will work with UT BEG in providing information to grasp a better understanding of any relationship between oil and gas production and seismic activity occurring in Texas.

In adding to the discussion on recent seismic activity, throughout the 84th Session, the Railroad Commission worked in conjunction with the legislature through our participation in hearings, meetings and through input on legislation to further investigate unexplained seismic activity occurring in areas of the state. For a recent interview update I gave on this issue with Capital Tonight in Austin during the Session, please visit the news link here.

Energy Production in Texas

In new production areas where little industry activity may have previously existed, particularly in areas of large population growth as we have seen in the Eagle Ford, we know that criminal activity and the need for law enforcement will grow. In the past two to three years, oil field theft has become an issue of serious concern. At the Midland based, FBI-led Oilfield Theft Task Force, law enforcement is averaging between $400,000 and $800,000 a month in theft in the Permian Basin.

House Bill 3291 establishes an easier prosecution of oilfield theft by creating an offense of theft of pipeline equipment, oil and gas equipment, oil, gas, or condensate and the unauthorized purchase or sale of oil, gas, or condensate for an individual who fails to obtain the required registration or permits from the Railroad Commission. This bill will go a long way as law enforcement across the state works to quickly become better educated about oilfield theft and prepares to aggressively address the issue.

With the many economic benefits that have come from oil and gas production in Texas, industry growth has had an impact on transportation infrastructure throughout the state. Communities are struggling to maintain roads, and resulting safety issues remain an issue. This session, the legislature passed House Bill 4025 allowing counties to designate County Energy Transportation Reinvestment Zones which promote transportation infrastructure projects in areas of the state affected by heavy oil and gas exploration and production activities.

Lifting the U.S. Oil Export Ban

There are a few major issues bubbling at the federal level that affect Texas energy development, and U.S. energy as a whole. A big issue is our nation’s inability to export crude oil – a law that adversely impacts approximately 90% of our country’s production. The U.S. is producing more light, sweet crude than our refineries can handle and the ban on U.S. crude oil exports should be lifted in order to develop new markets for excess production.

Expanded markets and free trade for crude oil produced in the U.S. would increase U.S. GDP by as much as $135 billion each year; create up to one million new domestic jobs; add $1.3 trillion to government revenue over the 2016 – 2030 time period, reducing our national deficit; reduce U.S. imports by $67 billion each year; lower gasoline prices as they are set by freely traded global product markets; and, strengthen the U.S. geopolitical standing. If the U.S. crude oil market remains persistently over-supplied, the market will increasingly discount the value of U.S. crude oil.

The crude oil export ban no longer makes sense for a nation with abundant crude oil reserves and means to produce them. Please help to educate your friends on this issue, and urge your representatives in Washington to support lifting the ban.

Thank You for Allowing Me to Continue to Serve Texas

The current energy growth has presented a real opportunity for producing states to benefit from the economic value of the responsible regulation of energy development. As the U.S. continues to rival OPEC countries in oil production, I look forward to working with policymakers and the Commission to keep regulatory structures in Texas strong, limit intervention in industry innovation, and ensure that we continue in the Railroad Commission’s long tradition of keeping Texas communities and our natural resources safe.

It remains my pleasure and honor to serve Texas as your Railroad Commissioner. My staff and I continue to welcome your concerns and questions involving oil and gas production in your community.

May God continue to bless you and the Great State of Texas!

Railroad Commission Awards IT Modernization Contract Today

Note from Christi:

As this energy revolution continues to unfold in ‎Texas, it is vital that the Commission remain a leader in energy regulation. Plans for this IT modernization effort are a necessary step forward for that purpose. The complete overhaul of our IT program will be complete June 2015.


By: The Railroad Commission of Texas

AUSTIN – Railroad Commissioners today approved awarding a contract to CGI Technologies and Solutions, Inc. (CGI) to implement the Railroad Commission’s Information Technology modernization program.

The $13.9 million contract requires CGI to complete Phase 1, the planning and analysis portion of the project by May 2014. Phase II-the implementation will be split into two parts, the first completed by February 2015 and the second completed by June 2015. CGI represents clients in the energy sector and has implemented regulatory products in several states, including Texas, where the company completed IT modernization activities for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

Chairman Barry Smitherman said, “This is an exciting time at the Railroad Commission as we can now move forward with the long-awaited update of our IT systems, which is vital for our staff to keep pace with the current energy boom we are experiencing statewide.”

Commissioner David Porter said, “Our hardworking staff will now have additional technological tools to help boost our ongoing work to protect public safety and the environment while regulating oil and gas production.”

Commissioner Christi Craddick said, “Texas is the nation’s top oil and gas producer, and to remain a leading regulator, our agency must keep pace with the industry in technological advancements. This modernization program helps us to do just that.”

The Commission’s IT modernization program will provide improvements including:

You can read the full release here.

During Domestic Drilling Boom, Why Are Gas Prices Still High?

Note from Christi:

Many of you have asked.. Here are the reasons why:


By: Holly Heinrich, StateImpact

The drilling processes of hydraulic fracturing – or “fracking” — and horizontal drilling have made it possible to access previously unreachable deposits of fossil fuels, creating a surge in domestic oil and natural gas production. So why are prices at the gas pump still relatively high? (Last week, the average national gas price was $3.68 per gallon.)

We sat down with Dr. Ted Patzek, Chairman of the Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, to find some answers.

He said there are multiple reasons why gas prices are still up, even though the country is producing more than it has in some time:

  1. The crude oil reserves that are currently being produced by hydraulic fracturing are fairly expensive to access. Today, American oil reserves tend to lie in shale formations or in deposits under the ocean floor. The higher production costs become part of higher gasoline prices.
  2. Crude oil, not natural gas, is the main substance in gasoline, which powers our cars, airplanes, and many other forms of transportation—so increased natural gas production does not drive gasoline prices down.
  3. Financial institutions, such as major banks, speculate on raw materials like oil and natural gas. Companies such as J.P. Morgan and Goldman Sachs provide financing for the development of oil and natural gas projects—but they also exert influence over the prices of these resources, and thus can keep them relatively high.

Continue to read the full article here.

Retail Gas Prices Down 4 Cents Across Texas

Note from Christi:

Gas prices inch down throughout Texas. Let’s hope this continues!


By: The Associated Press

HOUSTON — The average in Texas for gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is at $3.50 this week, 4 cents less than a week ago.

AAA Texas said Thursday that this week’s average is 13 cents less than the national average of $3.63.

Drivers in Dallas and Fort Worth are paying the most at $3.54 and drivers in Amarillo, El Paso, and Corpus Christi are paying the least at $3.43.

The association says motorists in most states are paying less at the pump than a week ago, with the declines most dramatic in the Midwest. But, the association says, crude oil prices remain elevated because of positive signs for the global economy, continued unrest in Egypt and recent reports of violence in Libya, which produces two percent of global oil consumption.

Read the full article here.

Ford to launch F-150 That Can Run On Natural Gas

Note from Christi:

Ford announces it will offer the 2014 version of America’s most popular vehicle with a natural gas option, turning drivers into potential consumers of the cleaner, low-cost fuel.


By: Zain Shaunk, Fuel Fix

Ford Motor Co. will offer a natural gas option for its 2014 F-150 pickup truck models, turning drivers of America’s most popular vehicle into potential consumers of the low-cost fuel.

The option, scheduled to be announced Wednesday, will add a major prospect for consumers hoping to use natural gas to fuel cars and light-duty trucks, since only one such vehicle — the Honda Civic Natural Gas — is available now for direct sales from an automaker to U.S. customers.

“There is the potential that we may look back on this launch as when natural gas really became a mass-market fuel for retail customers as well as fleet customers,” said Jon Coleman, sustainability and technology manager for Ford, in an interview with FuelFix.

Though no one — not even Ford — is predicting large sales for the natural gas versions of the F-150, the model may draw particular interest in Texas — the nation’s top producer of natural gas and No. 1 buyer of pickup trucks.

And Ford’s F-series, of which the F-150 is the most popular model, has long been the top selling car line in America.

Continue to read the full article here.

New Wells Proliferate Across the Eagle Ford Shale

Note from Christi:

Cool map of U.S. ‪‎oil‬ and ‪gas‬ wells showing 2K+ in Permian and 1K+ in Eagle Ford – thousands more in ‪#‎Texas‬ than other U.S. shale plays.


By: Jennifer Hiller, Fuel Fix

Oil field activity in South Texas is adding up to lots of new wells.

In the last four quarters, operators have drilled 4,092 new wells in the Eagle Ford Shale, according to a new quarterly count of U.S. wells from Baker Hughes.

In the second quarter of this year, there were 1,050 new Eagle Ford wells – which means each rig working in the region drilled 4.56 wells.

The quarterly well count is a new measure from the Houston-based Baker Hughes, which also releases a rig count on Fridays.

There were 9,061 wells in the Permian Basin in West Texas in the last four quarters – by far the biggest number of new wells in the U.S.

The Williston Basin (also known as the Bakken Shale in North Dakota and eastern Montana) had 2,357 wells. The Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania had 1,801 new wells in the last four quarters. And the Mississipian Limestone, an oil field in Kansas, had 1,316 new wells.

Putting both the rig count and the well count together should show how quickly companies are able to drill in various fields around the U.S.

Continue to read the full article here.

Driving Our Economy

Note from Christi:

‪Shale‬ ‪‎energy‬ production in ‪Texas‬ is growing every part of the economy, even in ways you sometimes would not imagine. In this case – truck sales and ‪‎jobs‬ at local car dealerships.


By: Chip Latcham,

Most stories we have read recently continue to remain positive about the Eagle Ford Shale and its impact on this region of South Texas.

In the Business Sunday section of the San Antonio Express-News, one feature story keyed on the fact that truck sales are booming along with the shale oil play.

“It’s just been incredible,” said one commercial sales and services manager for a Ford dealership in San Antonio. Other automakers report similar gains in new car and truck sales around SA and Houston, and local auto groups said their fleet business has surged alongside the Eagle Ford boom.

A quick check with Beeville auto dealerships revealed similar sentiments. Rick Smith, general manager of Dave Moore Ford, said sales indeed are revving up.

“We are tied for second in our region (Houston south) in truck sales (select dealers in smaller markets),” he said, bringing smiles to the owners and employees.

Multiple oil field companies are making regular purchases of work trucks, Smith said, adding that a “ton of trucks” have been sent to their dealership and are being sold off their lot.

Read the full article here.

New Federal Study: Fracking Did Not Pollute Groundwater

Note from Christi:

The DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory recently found that fluids used in the hydraulic fracturing process did not contaminate drinking water aquifers.


By: Dana Boham, Energy in Depth

It’s the linchpin argument of the anti-fracking movement, and federal researchers are once again saying it’s without merit.

New research from the National Energy Technology Laboratory, part of the U.S. Department of Energy, has found that fluids used in the hydraulic fracturing process (often called “fracking”) did not contaminate drinking water aquifers. As reported by the Associated Press:

Drilling fluids tagged with unique markers were injected more than 8,000 feet below the surface, but were not detected in a monitoring zone 3,000 feet higher. That means the potentially dangerous substances stayed about a mile away from drinking water supplies.

Eight new Marcellus Shale horizontal wells were monitored seismically and one was injected with four different man-made tracers at different stages of the fracking process, which involves setting off small explosions to break the rock apart. The scientists also monitored a separate series of older gas wells that are about 3,000 feet above the Marcellus to see if the fracking fluid reached up to them.

The industry and many state and federal regulators have long contended that fracking itself won’t contaminate surface drinking water because of the extreme depth of the gas wells. Most are more than a mile underground, while drinking water aquifers are usually within 500 to 1000 feet of the surface.

Continue to read the full article here.

Craddick’s Energy Industry Update: 83rd Session

The 83rd Regular Legislative Session ended May 27th. And with the period for which bills can be vetoed by Governor Perry ending Sunday, the Legislature passed into law significant legislation related to energy production and regulation in Texas.

With immense growth within the energy industry, communities are seeing the effects of increased production. Key legislation will work to address the issues associated with oil and gas development arising across the state, including: further protection of Texas citizens and our natural resources, energy industry water usage during times of drought and road infrastructure impacted by increased traffic related to energy production and transportation.

Railroad Commission Budget and Regulation

One of the Railroad Commission’s top priorities this session has been to secure funding for the development of IT modernization efforts at the agency. The state’s budget bills include $24.7 million that will assist in overhauling the Railroad Commission’s IT department that is long overdue. The funding is part of $33 million in the state budget for the Railroad Commission that will provide for Geographical Information System upgrades, a Data Center Services cost increase, and provide for salary parity for oil and gas division employees, additional pipeline safety inspectors and general counsel enforcement employees to further address current industry growth. In response to requests for greater access to information housed by the agency, plans for the IT renovation will allow for improved efficiency, effectiveness and transparency within the Commission and make information more readily available to the public.

Among other legislation affecting energy regulation in Texas are efforts to increase pipeline safety standards and the safety of our state’s natural resources. SB 900 works towards safer transportation of fuels through state pipelines with the increase of monetary penalties for violating Commission rules on pollution and pipeline safety. In addition, HB 2982 provides the Commission the authority to regulate the safety of Class 1 and rural gathering pipelines and pipeline facilities; which, under current federal safety regulations, are not regulated. It allows the Commission to establish rules requiring operators to submit reports and information about their facilities, and grants the Commission the ability to respond to accidents, leaks, or complaints.

During the 83rd Session, the Railroad Commission worked in conjunction with the legislature to further protect Texans and Texas resources in developing new rules to address the state’s growing energy industry. The Commission established new regulations with amendments to oil and gas well construction (Statewide Rule 13) to further ensure the state’s water sources are properly protected during drilling and completion activities.

Energy Production in Texas

Increasing the number of vehicles using compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG) for fueling purposes has many economic and environmental benefits. Under current law, these CNG and LNG equipped vehicles must use a windshield decal to show that they have paid their motor vehicle tax. This necessitates expensive technology for monitoring the decal and license plate of these vehicles. HB 2148 would remove barriers to the growing number of vehicles using CNG and LNG by simplifying the administration of their taxes through the requirement of collection at the dealer level so that customers pay upon refueling, as they do with gasoline and diesel.

Current technology within the Texas energy industry has developed an option for energy producers to recycle production water and waste for the re-use of water or reinvestment into areas affected by energy production, such as the building of roads with waste materials. HB 2767 would make it the policy of this state to encourage the treatment of liquid and semiliquid oil and gas waste so that the treated product may be recycled for beneficial use. The bill would allow a person who holds a permit in good standing for on‐lease oil and gas waste reclamation to expeditiously receive a permit to treat and store the waste off-lease.

Additionally, during the session, the Railroad Commission approved amendments to recycling rules (Statewide Rule 8 Chapter 4 Subchapter B) to facilitate the recycling of both solid and fluid oil and gas wastes to encourage Texas operators to continue their efforts at conserving water used in the hydraulic fracturing process for the drilling of oil and gas wells.

In relation to eminent domain issues, much discussion has developed over public purpose and public use distinctions. Both Texas statutes and judicial decisions have often allowed eminent domain to be used for a public purpose despite constitutional language specifying the use of eminent domain for a public use. SB 655 addresses this issue by establishing provisions relating to the exercise of the power of eminent domain by certain authorized entities in order to reduce the amount of public purpose projects using eminent domain.

Water Infrastructure

The State Water Plan passed under HB 4 works to address growing water demands within the state. In the next 50 years, the state’s water supply is expected to decrease 18%, while water demands are expected to increase by 27%. Furthermore, Texas could be short 8.3 million acre-feet per year by 2060, equivalent to almost 3 trillion gallons of water.

The health of Texas citizens and the state’s vibrant economy will be impacted without access to an adequate supply of clean water. Water shortages due to the state’s current drought already cost Texans billions of dollars in lost income every year, and those losses are projected to grow to $116 billion annually without long term plans in place for the future of Texas water. The State Water Plan is comprised of over 500 strategies with the potential to develop almost 9 million acre-feet of new water over the next 50 years.

Legislators worked to address the future of Texas water infrastructure with the passage of three key measures. HB 4 establishes a new Texas Water Development Board and creates the funding mechanism for the two water fund accounts: the State Water Implementation Fund of Texas (SWIFT) and the State Water Implementation Revenue Fund of Texas (SWIRFT). In addition, HB 1025 allocates $2 billion from the Rainy Day Fund to be put into the SWIFT and SWIRFT accounts to be invested for funding of $25 billion worth of projects over the next 50 years. Lastly, SJR 1 calls for the constitutional amendment to make permanent the two water fund accounts, but will first require the approval of Texas voters on the ballot in November. As November grows closer, I encourage each of you to stay up to date on developments with SJR 1 and reach out to your local elected officials for information about the State Water Plan in order to make an informed choice on election day.

While a number of bills filed this session attempting to regulate the energy industry’s impact on Texas’ annual water usage failed, the industry is proactively working to develop their own plans to conserve water through the development of water recycling and use of brackish and salt water with desalination technology.


With the many economic benefits that have come from Texas’ increased oil and gas production, these activities have had an impact on transportation infrastructure throughout the state. Communities are struggling to maintain roads, and resulting safety issues are a rising concern. This session, the legislature explored a number of options to address infrastructure and safety concerns in communities affected by oil and gas production. While the below measures will become law, transportation issues are currently continuing to be debated in the special session and legislators are working to further explore legislation to address transportation issues related to oil and gas production.

A key component is SB 1747, which would create a state fund for the purposes of distributing immediate relief through grants for transportation infrastructure under a program administered by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). The fund would establish criteria to effectively ensure that money received for transportation infrastructure and safety needs in areas touched by oil and gas exploration traffic are proportional to an area’s oil and gas activities. The fund would also create a long-term tool that county governments could use to repair their roads.

As a considerable portion of energy exploration and production in Texas occurs in rural areas where many of the roads and bridges were not designed for heavy traffic and overweight vehicles, a proposal for reinvestment zone funding would allow communities to rebuild and reinforce transportation infrastructure in highly affected rural areas. HB 2300 establishes county energy transportation reinvestment zones for the purpose of addressing damage done to roads and bridges associated with traffic resulting from the energy production boom in those specified areas.

Statewide Energy Town Hall Meetings

During my campaign and throughout my first 6 months in office, I have become increasingly aware of the need for energy education efforts throughout Texas, specifically in areas touched by the current boom in oil and gas production. Beginning this fall, my office will organize a monthly town hall throughout the state where my staff and I will invite local elected officials, community leaders, energy producers and others to serve as a resource for communities in responding to questions and concerns they may have about production in their area. Please look for upcoming announcements for town hall meetings throughout the state soon.

It remains my pleasure and honor to serve Texas as your Railroad Commissioner. My staff and I continue to welcome your concerns and questions involving oil and gas production in your community. May God continue to bless you and the Great State of Texas!


Christi Craddick