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Craddick best for RR commission

October 19, 2018

With reservations, we recommend Christi Craddick for a second term as a Texas railroad commissioner.

This recommendation mostly reflects that Craddick’s opponent, Roman McAllen, would be learning on the job. McAllen, a Democrat, is the historic preservation officer for the city of Denton. He does not have a background in oil and gas, which the Railroad Commission regulates.

Craddick, a Republican, is an attorney with deep family ties to the industry. Some would argue too deep.

According to the Austin American-Statesman, Craddick has an in interest in nearly 75 wells across at least eight Texas counties. She also has mineral rights connected with at least 100 other well sites.

All of this is allowed, but it raises obvious questions about conflicts. For example, she approved a flaring request on a lease site in West Texas despite having an interest. This allowed oil production to continue, and in turn $40 a month in earnings for Craddick.

Craddick also encouraged the agency’s former executive director to resign, prompting a harsh rebuke from her fellow Commissioner Ryan Sitton.

The Railroad Commission of Texas would benefit from a name change, but Craddick opposes this, saying it would be too costly. She appears undecided whether injection wells are connected to earthquakes, and she offered no policy ideas about curbing flaring — the practice of burning natural gas — telling us the market will solve that issue.

The agency has made headway on plugging abandoned wells under her tenure. Craddick has also highlighted efforts to hire more pipeline and oil and gas inspectors and championed technological improvements with the agency. The commission also fines the industry about $1 million a month, she said.

In this race, Craddick’s deep ties with the oil and gas industry she regulates is problematic, but her experience sets her apart.