Texas Campaign for the Environment, our partners and community advocates from across the state presented the Texas Railroad Commission Candidates Forum on May 27th.
Railroad Commission Candidates Chrysta Castañeda and Roberto Alonzo attended the Forum. Candidate Jim Wright was invited but did not attend. Both candidates who attended now face a Democratic Primary Runoff Election on July 14 and the general election will be on November 3, 2020.
Alberta Phillips, Journalist and former Editorial Board member of the Austin American-Statesman moderated the Forum with Virginia Palacios, Principal with VP Environmental of Laredo providing opening remarks.
Candidates Castañeda and Alonzo answered questions from Panelists:
* Ranjana Bhandari (Arlington), Founder/Board Chair of Liveable Arlington on enforcement and drilling near schools
* Crystal Moran (El Paso), Frontera Water Protection Alliance on public health impacts of flaring & venting waste
* Gene Collins ( Odessa), Texas NAACP on earthquakes, methane, and air pollution in the Permian Basin
* Amanda McKeel (Austin, TX), Society of Native Nations on indigenous peoples’ rights
* Juan Parras (Houston), Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services on ensuring environmental protection after EPA rule rollbacks
* Dave Cortez (Austin), Sierra Club on conflicts of interest and ethics of campaign contributions
* Tricia Cortez (Laredo), Rio Grande International Study Center on Gulf Coast petrochemical build-out, quadrupling of plastics production and the balance of industry and the environment.
Donna Hoffman with TCE provided technical direction; Robin Schneider TCE Executive Director kept time; while Emma Pabst with Environment Texas and Corey Troiani with TCE moderated Q&A.
Pipeline activist and singer-songwriter Purly Gates with Clean Energy Now Texas (CENT) from Wimberley closed the Forum with her songs “Talkin’ Pipeline” and “The Fox is Guarding the Henhouse”.
The Texas Railroad Commission is one of the most important environmental agencies in Texas. Now is the time to make sure the agency is accountable to the people, not big polluters. Ignoring their own mission, the Commission routinely allows toxic waste, air and water pollution, and the corporate abuse of eminent domain to affect people across the state. Incumbent commissioners regularly receive campaign contributions from the same companies the RRC oversees, and they rarely declare conflicts of interest when making punitive decisions over companies from which they stand to benefit. It’s important these Candidates are aware and are prepared to act in the best interests of communities’ health and conservation of natural resources.
For more information about how you can get involved in monitoring and providing feedback to the Texas Railroad Commission about activities in your area, email Robin [AT] texasenvironment.org.