Mike Wright for Texas Railroad Commission

 

I’m Mike Wright and I’ll be on the November Ballot for Railroad Commission. I want to take a moment of your time to introduce myself and trust that after getting to know me you will vote for me this fall.

First, for those unfamiliar with the Railroad Commission, it doesn’t have anything to do with railroads. It was created in the late 1800’s to oversee and regulate railroads. In the 1930’s when there was a need to oversee and regulate the Oil & Gas Industry, this responsibility was given to the only regulatory agency in the state at that time, the Texas Railroad Commission. The Railroad Commission regulates the Oil & Gas Industries, Pipelines, Compressed and Liquefied Natural Gas, Surface Mining of Coal & Uranium and Setting the Rates for some small Gas Utilities.

There are lots of opinions about the Railroad Commission. In doing my research and talking with people who deal with the commission, many believe that the commission would benefit from being more transparent and take on more issues that need their attention.  There is a need for an independent person who will listen to all sides and make decisions based on what is best for the majority of the citizens of Texas. In reviewing the minutes of the Texas Railroad Commission, 99% of the matters are adopted on 3-0 votes. There needs to be someone on the Railroad Commission looking at matters from more than a single point of view. As for transparency, I would insist that the justification for any waiver of the rules and regulations be justified and Commissioners would sign off that they have not received any funds from the individuals or corporations requesting the waivers.

One issue that is not being dealt with is water. Much of Texas has a water shortage and one of my opponent’s solutions is to just not allow the Oil & Gas Industry to have any water for fracking. Rather than playing favorites, my solution is to encourage the various Oil & Gas Companies who operate primarily in the Permian Basis to form a cooperative and build a desalinization plant in the Gulf. This plant would be designed to produce enough water to meet their fracking needs.

The same or another cooperative hopefully will be formed to recycle as much of the water that can be reclaimed from water used in fracking. Neither of these solutions can be undertaken economically by a single company for numerous reasons. The Oil & Gas Companies working together can produce all of the water they need now and into the future and free up a lot of water for the population and agriculture. All of this will allow the Oil & Gas Industry to grow and reach its maximum potential while allowing the areas of Texas where they operate to grow. The recycling of the water used in fracking will minimize or eliminating the use of injection wells which may cause seismic activity.

An argument can be made to have the government do this since the approximate 5% severance tax on oil should produce roughly $3 billion annually just from the Permian Basin with extra severance tax revenue coming from gas.   However, while I don’t have the exact number for the amount of water needed for fracking each year, which is needed to estimate cost of the desalinization plant, my tentative estimate is about $3 to $4 billion for a plant that can produce 2 billion gallons of water per year. If the state took on and funded the project, the Oil & Gas Industry won’t be assured of having a dedicated source of water. From my business background, I know that a $3 to $4 billion dollar investment to insure the industry has a secure source of a critical resource would be a wise investment.

A desalinization plant has a thirty year life so the $3 to $4 billion investment would help insure the expected $2 trillion of revenue over the life of the plant. Currently, it is estimated that the industry pays 9 cents per gallon for water delivered to a fracking operation via trucks. The estimated cost of water from desalinization is around 4 cents a gallon plus the cost of transportation. Much of this water could eventually be handled via pipelines. This would save a lot of wear and tear on the roads. In summary, I believe the investment into these projects can be cost justified by the Oil and Gas Industry but also be justified for strategic and political reasons.

There are and will be additional issues that the Railroad Commission should deal with, and I have the background and education to do this.

There are a few things that set me apart from the other candidates for Railroad Commission.  

  • I am retired and can and will devote as much time as is needed to meet with those concerned with matters before the Railroad Commission. I will do the necessary research and vote on issues that come before the Railroad Commission in what I believe is the best interest of the citizens of Texas.
  • I will be 71 when elected and will only serve a single term and will not seek any other office. In the past, many people have raised funds while in office and used them to seek reelection or another office.
  • As far as campaign funds, I will be self-funding my campaign to the extent necessary to travel around the state to meet people and groups, share my message and learn  the concerns of others.  Additional funds I raise before the election will be used for campaign materials, advertising, etc.  Any funds received after the election will be used to pay for travel, research, etc. that normally would be paid or funded by the Railroad Commission via their budget. This will save the State of Texas money. Any funds that are left at the end of my term will be donated to charity with my undergraduate and graduate schools being the prime benefactors.

 

Some questions you might have about voting for Mike:

Would I be wasting my vote since I don’t think a third party can be elected?

If we want to get both of the other parties to get serious about issues, some third party candidates need to start winning elections. Most of the people I talk with aren’t pleased with many of the current elected officials from either party.  Do your research and decide who the best candidate is and vote for them regardless of party. The person who gets the most votes gets elected not the one with the most dollars raised or spent. This is particularly important with the Railroad Commission where there are three commissioners. I would not have total say on Railroad Commission issues and would need to work well with the other commissioners to see into the future and to get things done.

What are your concerns about the environment?

I’m concerned about the environment and will be doing reviews of peer reviewed research articles and note who funded the research to determine the extent of the environmental problems and its credibility. If necessary or if Oil & Gas Operations are close to an environmentally sensitive area, the Railroad Commission may need to require ground monitoring so any problem is detected well before it could become an environmental disaster.

I will not be in favor of waiving any regulation that could negatively impact the environment unless a monitoring plan is in place to insure there isn’t a negative impact on the environment. Currently many rules and regulations are waived without the public knowing the justification. I would insist that any waiver would include the justification in the minutes.

Where do you stand on solar, wind and other energy sources?

I favor a free market. I personally would like to see all government subsidies discontinued and allow all sources of energy to grow as the market values them. I see potential for all sources of energy for years to come since they all have their unique advantages and disadvantages.