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Let’s call it what it is

I do not understand the resistance to renaming the Texas Railroad Commission to reflect what it actually does.

The Railroad Commission is the state’s chief regulator of oil and gas production. The agency no longer deals with railroads yet still regularly receives calls from Texans about train schedules.

In 2005, when its last shred of authority over railroads was transferred to another agency, the Texas Railroad Commission’s name became a misnomer.

The commission, with the support of all three elected commissioners, is pushing the Legislature to rename the agency the Texas Energy Commission. Despite apparent widespread agreement that the current name is confusing at best, misleading at worst, the effort may fail.

Over the last five years, multiple efforts have stalled and always at the same place: the House Energy Resources Committee.

The roadblock has been former Speaker Tom Craddick, who as Speaker and then again as a regular member has managed to block bills that would effect this change. I don’t know what his reasons are; he didn’t comment for the story. I guess it’s good to know that Craddick can always be counted on to oppose anything sensible or beneficial, but that doesn’t really get us anywhere. I can at least understand this objection:

[Myra Crownover, R-Denton, vice chairwoman of the House Energy Committee] said her opposition was for financial concerns. The Railroad Commission estimated the costs of changing its name — putting up new signs and redoing forms and publications — at $100,000. Crownover wanted the agency to hire more pipeline safety inspectors for the Barnett Shale area.

“I feel strongly that the Railroad Commission needs every dollar in their budget to ensure the safe and effective regulation of the oil and gas industry,” Crownover said in a statement.

Well okay, but $100K is literally nothing in the context of the state budget. The amount is too trivial to be held hostage to an either-or question like the one Crownover raises. There’s really no good reason not to do this.

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One Comment

  1. joe says:

    This past session the Legislature renamed ORCA (Office of Rural Community Affairs) to the Texas Department of Rural Affairs, and renamed State Schools to State Supported Living Centers.

    I’m with you, I don’t understand the argument against it that they’d have to buy new letterhead. The Legislature renames stuff every session to more accurately reflect the entity’s fundamental mission. In fact, there’s actually a state commission (Sunset) that comes up with stuff like that (hence the 2007 Board of Nurse Examiners to the Texas Board of Nursing). I’m pretty sure Crownover voted for all those name changes without blinking an eye to the cost.