Three Reasons the Texas Railroad Commission Race Matters

Texans have the opportunity to elect a truly progressive candidate for one of our state’s most important - though incorrectly named - state agencies.

Ed. note: Early voting in the Texas primaries runs from Tuesday, February 16 through Friday, February 26. Click here to find your polling location.

A hotly contested Democratic primary for the Texas Railroad Commission is underway, and Texans have the opportunity to elect a truly progressive candidate for one of our state’s most important - though incorrectly named -  state agencies.

Lon Burnam, a former State Representative and long-time champion of progressive values, is running for an open seat on the Texas Railroad Commission. Already endorsed by a number of statewide papers, Burnam brings a lifetime of environmental advocacy to an election that is critical to Texas’ future.

Here’s why the Texas Railroad Commission race matters:

  1. It’s about Texas’ energy and environmental future.

    Despite its name, the Railroad Commission is actually in charge of regulating energy production in Texas. This includes enforcing - at least in theory - environmental and safety regulations for oil, gas, and mining. Run by three commissioners that serve six-year terms, the Railroad Commission maintains tremendous control over Texas’ air, land, and water quality.

  2. The Railroad Commission has a lot of problems.

    Compared to other state agencies, the RRC is particularly terrible when it comes to accountability and transparency.  Commissioners have been more than happy to take campaign donations from the very companies that they are supposed to be regulating.  As a result, many argue that the RRC basically functions as an arm of the oil and gas industry, neglecting its oversight duties in favor of special interests.

  3. There’s a great candidate in the race: Lon Burnam.

    A former State Representative from Fort Worth, Lon Burnam worked hard in his time in the Texas Legislature to champion renewable energy and strong oversight of Texas’ oil and gas industry. With a 100% scorecard rating from Environment Texas and a history of legislation aimed at improving Texas’ environment, Burnam has a long track record of standing up for the best interests of the people of Texas.

Here’s what some of Texas’ leading newspapers are saying about Lon Burnam:

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"Burnam, who has the backing of environmental groups such as the Sierra Club, Clean Water Action and Texas Environmental Democrats, [is] a worthy candidate for a seat on the commission." - read more

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"Burnam and the Democrats decry the commission’s lack of transparency and its light regulatory touch." read more

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"He has a deep understanding of the issues and challenges in the industry and its importance to Texas...there’s really only one credible option." - read more

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" knowledgeable about the issues and well-qualified for his party's nomination." - read more

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"[Burnam] has a knowledge of the industry and issues that his opponents...don’t come close to possessing." - read more