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Key Positions of 2020 Texas Railroad Commissioner Candidates

October 9, 2020

TCE compiled the following information from the candidates’ responses to the Texas League of Women Voters 2020 Primary and General Election Voter Guides, candidates’ statements during a Texas Tribune virtual debate held on September 7, 2020 and candidate responses to an Austin American Statesman questionnaire   and Inside Texas Politics on WFAA, October 17, 2020. This is by no means an exhaustive list of the candidates’ viewpoints or their comments on these topics. This guide is intended to serve as a resource for Texas voters.  See below for more information from links to the major daily newspapers’ endorsements and the candidates’ own websites.

Viewpoints: Pollution from Flaring & Venting

Chrysta Castañeda
She says “In 2019, oil companies lit on fire enough natural gas (flaring) that if turned to electricity it would power the City of Houston. This is against the law, causes lung damage and premature births, and makes no sense. I’m running to get the Railroad Commission back on track in enforcing our environmental protections and to protect against the waste of our natural resources.”

Jim Wright
He says there are “overwhelmingly positive facts surrounding the issue” of flaring and that “oftentimes anti-industry groups and some members of the media like to trend negative on the topic.”

Viewpoints: Climate Change

Chrysta Castañeda
“The industry acknowledges that climate change is real. The National Petroleum Council came out and acknowledged it last year in December… with a plan for carbon capture. There is no doubt that climate change is real and that fossil fuel production impacts it. But that doesn’t mean we’re sunk.  It just means that the oil and gas industry needs to do better with its greenhouse gas emissions. I’d say about half the industry is tuned into this. But the problem is that the other half of the industry is not and the current Railroad Commissioners are unfairly penalizing the people who would follow the law, allowing scofflaws to get away with not following the law.”

Jim Wright
“I think it’s important that people understand what [flaring] has done to our environment…
One of the facts that remains on flaring is that the emissions are CO2, it’s not any type of volatile compounds and CO2 is part of our atmosphere today. CO2 has been here. I’m not sure there’s enough technology to put blame strictly on what flaring has caused to the atmosphere. I think that if you’ve seen through our history and time, the earth is going to continue to evolve. I’m not sure we have good facts on what’s causing climate change. I can tell you one thing, the oil and gas industry has done a good job in assuring and ensuring we have markets to put our gas into.”

Viewpoints: Pipeline Regulation

Chrysta Castañeda
She says that intrastate pipeline safety standards need to be updated and that she will press for state legislation to increase transparency and public input.

Jim Wright
He supports increased automated leak detection systems and more pipelines in Texas.

Viewpoints: Other pressing issues

Chrysta Castañeda
She says, water reclamation and reuse program would reduce the need for fresh water and disposal wells and that the RRC needs to ensure industry compliance with standards with updated permitting and reporting requirements and oversight by adequately trained and compensated professionals.

Jim Wright
He says, the RRC must use proven technology for better communication with citizens and industry; that the RRC needs stronger self-policing actions and reporting by producers; and must use life cycle analysis to promote best environmental management practices by the Industry.

Viewpoints: Environmental impact of oil & gas industry

Chrysta Castañeda
She says, “Responsible operators know how to do better which is stop venting and stop flaring and help the planet at the same time. Eighty percent of Texans want clean air, clean water and good old ‘don’t mess with Texas. This is the way we don’t mess with Texas.”

Jim Wright
He says, “When you look at renewable energy and you compare it with our fossil fuel today, it’s impact on our environment is just as great as fossil fuels are. I’m not saying that fossil fuels have any impact on our environment. I believe our industry has done an outstanding job of upholding what the environment means. I know I’m in the business.”

Newspaper Endorsements in the Texas Railroad Commissioner race
in the 2020 General Election

Houston Chronicle: “Texas needs at least one member of the Railroad Commission who takes to heart both the mandate that the commission promote the oil and gas industry and its charge to safeguard the water and air Texans drink or breathe… Castañeda will do just that. Launching her campaign with a focus on the wasteful and damaging practice of flaring — the burning of surplus gas from oil wells — she is better positioned to steer a course for the 21st century.

Dallas Morning News: “We recommend voters choose Democrat Chrysta Castañeda as the candidate with practical solutions to put the commission in a leadership role on major energy issues.”

San Antonio Express News “[Castañeda] has the expertise in the oil and gas industry this position demands and deserves, along with the communication skills to explain complex issues in relatable and digestible ways. She would serve the public as an excellent industry watchdog, but also as an industry explainer… It would be a mistake to view this race through a partisan lens. Far better is to consider expertise, which Castañeda has in abundance.”

Major Railroad Commissioner Candidates Websites

Chrysta Castañeda

Jim Wright

Categories: News Clipping

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