Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

Primary Results: Republican Railroad Commission Race Goes to Runoff

Pump jack in Pierce Junction oilfield south of downtown Houston

Dave Fehling/StateImpact Texas

Pump jack in Pierce Junction oilfield south of downtown Houston

A four-way primary race has narrowed to two. Former State Representative Wayne Christian will face off against Ryan Sitton to become the Republican nominee for an open seat on the Railroad Commission of Texas, the agency that regulates Texas oil and gas industry.

Christian and Sitton, an engineer who owns a consulting firm that works with oil and gas companies, have mostly campaigned on red-meat issues like criticizing the Obama administration and touting their conservative credentials, rather than rather than highlighting their positions on oil and gas regulation.

In the Democratic primary, Steve Brown, a former legislative aide, defeated Dale Henry, and will advance to the general election ballot for November. Brown is the only major party candidate so far to suggest that the Railroad Commission should do more to limit the recent surge in earthquakes in Texas linked to oil and gas disposal wells.

Brown and the eventual Republican nominee will be running for the seat currently held by Barry Smitherman, who did not run for re-election on the Commission to pursue an unsuccessful bid for State Attorney general.


  • Paul Rowe

    I remain undeterred in support for the likely Libertarian candidate, Mark Miller. He is a registered engineer in oil and gas, is not a politician, and has clearly posted his position on regulation to address earthquakes on his site.

    It wasn’t really a surge. It was a series of tremors in an existing fault in an area with injection wells. The science is not a mystery. Oil and gas and research scientists have closely studied areas all over the state for years. Injection wells likely have the capacity to induce earthquakes that are waiting to happen, though it requires a rare set of circumstances.

    A well or two in that area were injecting at elevated pressures, and it has been quietly discontinued under existing regulations. The operators may be liable for any damages but that is for tort courts to determine. The Railroad Commission does not have this authority. The commission can consider regulations to minimize the impact, but we probably still want energy without wars so we can read and post as we do here.

    Miller is very clear and realistic about what can and should be done from the office he seeks, and he does not pander to any base. He’ll do the job we need done.

    He will also accept zero dollars from oil and gas. It is up to the People to change the system at the polls if they don’t want the Party / State Media circus to continue.

    Thanks for the story and the work that went into it.

  • Paul Rowe

    Not the right story to post this exactly, but if you are a Libertarian and did not vote in the Party primaries, be sure to show up for your precinct caucus next Tuesday. They are held at one place in each county, determined by the county chair of the Libertarian Party. From there you will almost surely have the opportunity to become a delegate to choose the candidates. The Libertarians will likely have a candidate in every state race, all representing the People first. Become part of the solution.

  • bnelms

    The Democrat sounds like another crazy.

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