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Please allow me to turn your attention to the Railroad Commissioner race for a moment

Because there’s a serious issue with one of the candidates, and this sort of thing never gets the attention it deserves.

Chrysta Castañeda

There is a glaring conflict of interest with Jim Wright, the Republican candidate running for Texas Railroad Commissioner, the state agency responsible for regulating the oil & gas industry and mining in the state.

On Wednesday, Texas Democrats circulated a news release detailing 255 logged violations of Wright’s company, DeWitt Recyclable Products. The inspections and violations were issued by the Texas Railroad Commission and date back to 2016, two years after his oilfield waste disposal company was founded.

Most striking, 50 of the violations for Wright’s company are for the unpermitted disposal of oil and gas wastes at his company’s facility in DeWitt County.

It’s clear why owning a waste disposal facility — one of only 24 facilities in Texas permitted to receive oilfield waste — could be problematic for someone running for a spot in the three-person Railroad Commission. The agency is ultimately responsible for the regulation and enforcement of oil & gas companies that must adhere to pages and pages of Texas administrative code.

But inspections and violations aside, Wright’s company is also engaged in a slew of litigation that presents even more problems for his candidacy. One such lawsuit was profiled in great detail by the Houston Chronicle this week. The report explains how Wright’s waste disposal company, which he sold Watson Energy Investments (but remained listed as the president) was shut down by the Texas Railroad Commission.

“Shortly after the facility was shut down, Watson Energy Investments fell behind on its payments to Wright,” the Chronicle’s Sergio Chapa reported. “He excercised an option in the contract to take control of the facility. In a lawsuit filed in March against his former business partners, Wright maintains that Watson still owes him $495,000 of payments from sale and another $180,000 in crude oil royalties.”

Here’s that TDP press release, and you should read the Chron story as well – there’s too much there to excerpt. The TL;dr of all this is that Jim Wright would be in an excellent position to make a lot of these problems for himself go away if he were elected to the Railroad Commission, even if as he claims he’d recuse himself from anything having to do with his own businesses. I submit to you, being on the regulatory body that oversees your business is a problem. Fortunately, there’s an easy solution for this, and that’s to elect Chrysta Castañeda, a very well-qualified candidate without any of this baggage. You can listen to my interview with her here if you haven’t already. And now you can return to obsessing about coronavirus, Trump’s latest tweets, destroying the post office in the name of voter suppression, the Senate’s unwillingness to take action to help the people who have been devastated by the COVID crisis, or whatever else is eating your brain.

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6 Comments

  1. Manny says:

    Republicans don’t care what their party people do or don’t do.

  2. Bill Daniels says:

    I see the potential conflict of interest with regard to Wright owning DeWitt Recyclable Products, a business regulated by the RRC, but I fail to see how Wright being a litigant in civil suits for breach of contract is an issue, unless we are going to say that the RRC is in bed with random judges who may be overseeing the cases.

    Even if Wright “recuses himself” from oversight of his disposal company, say you’re a RRC inspector…..do you really want to be the one writing tickets to the bosses own company? I can see that would be problematic.

    Having said that, if my choice is between Wright and a Green New Dealer, I’ll go with Wright. Imagine having an oil and gas hater being the ultimate ‘deciderer’ of whether permits get issued. Oil and gas and coal could be decimated here in Texas. Low prices are already putting the hurt on producers, having to fight the RRC with expensive litigation for every single thing would be devastating to an important industry that employees a whole lot of Texans, both directly and indirectly. And that’s before we even get started on building gathering and transmission pipelines. Imagine if Texas was hamstringing projects like the federal government held up DAPL and Keystone XL. Scary stuff.

  3. Bill Daniels says:

    *boss’

  4. SocraticGadfly says:

    Chrysta Castañeda is better than many a Dem running for the position might be. Please allow me to remind you that Texas Grees have Katija Gruene running.

  5. David Fagan says:

    The railroad commission has a history of electing Democrats who went on to being lobbyists for the petroleum industry. Do, if the Railroad Commission is seen as corrupt, then people can thank all those who have served and to think electing Democrat, or Republican, is going to make the commission free from corruption is a misconception. This lady is a lawyer in the petrol sector and will say, and do, what is needed to get elected, after that, it is business as usual.

  6. […] here for more on that Jim Wright business, and you can click over to see the table. It’s 42-32-8, […]