The Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC) is the state agency that regulates the oil and gas industry, natural gas utilities, pipeline safety, the natural gas and hazardous liquid pipeline industry and surface coal and uranium mining in Texas. The RRC is also responsible for research and education to promote the use of LP gas as an alternative fuel. The commission was established by the Texas Legislature in 1891 to prevent discrimination in railroad charges and to establish reasonable tariffs. It is the oldest regulatory agency in the state and one of the oldest of its kind in the nation.
In the most recent election, Republican Barry Smitherman widely won re-election to his seat on the commission, and Republican Christi Craddick won the open seat on the commission.
From the 1930s to the 1960s, the RRC largely set world oil prices but was displaced by OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Companies) after 1973. In 1984, the federal government took over the regulation of railroads, trucking and buses, but the Railroad Commission kept its name. The RCC has an annual budget of $79 million and focuses entirely on oil, gas, mining, propane and pipelines, setting allocations for production each month.
Railroad Commissioners are elected to six-year terms with one Commissioner seeking election every two years. The three-member commission was appointed by the governor until an amendment to the state’s constitution in 1894 established the commissioners as elected officials serving overlapping terms. No specific seat is designated as Chairman. The Commissioners decide who will serve as Chairman.
Click here for a history of the Railroad Commission of Texas.