Job descriptionOne of a three-person commission that oversees the Railroad Commission, a Texas state agency. Term is six years.
Duties
  • Regulates the oil and natural gas industry, pipelines, gas utilities, and coal and uranium surface mining.

  • Responsible for enforcing federal laws related to these industries.

  • Note: although it was originally created to do so, the Commission is not responsible for regulating railroads.

Annual salary$137,500

Candidate Q&A

Roberto R “Beto” Alonzo
Email: alonzotxrrcommissioner@gmail.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/StateRepRobertoRAlonzo/
Democrat
RUNOFF
Chrysta Castañeda
Website: https://chrystafortexas.com
Email: info@chrystafortexas.com
Phone: 469-701-0460
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ChrystaForTexas/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ChrystaforTexas
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/chrysta-casta%C3%B1eda-92757643/
Instagram: INSTAGRAM.COM/CHRYSTAFORTEXAS
Democrat
RUNOFF

Candidate Q&A

1. WHY ARE YOU THE BEST QUALIFIED CANDIDATE?
Roberto R “Beto” Alonzo
First and foremost, my experienced as a Legislator gives me the edge. I have a proven record of supporting legislation that gave local power to communities facing tough issues, specifically fracking in Denton – a controversial issue that has been studied and proven to hurt the environment, including the water supply and contributed to earthquakes. I have legislative appropriations experience, presiding over hearings. I have direct knowledge and the skill to address an issue head on with foresight while employing proactive strategies. As mentioned before, I grew up in rural Texas and now live in a major urban city. Oil and gas touch everyone’s lives and livelihood no matter the setting. I am an Attorney. I have litigation experience, not only as a criminal attorney, but as an Assistant Attorney General. I have developed skills in the legal profession that out-match hers in being an advocate for the people of Texas that have the AGs office on their side against unscrupulous corporations. I also began in high school, working afterschool for Legal Aid Texas Oficina de la Gente (office for the people), and later in college at Legal Aid Texas in Corpus Christi as a paralegal.
En primer lugar, mi experiencia como legislador me da la ventaja. Tengo un historial comprobado de apoyar la legislación que dio poder local a las comunidades que enfrentan problemas difíciles, específicamente el fracking en Denton, un tema controvertido que se ha estudiado y demostrado que daña el medio ambiente, incluido el suministro de agua y contribuyó a los terremotos. Tengo experiencia en asignaciones legislativas, presidiendo audiencias. Tengo un conocimiento directo y la habilidad para abordar un problema de frente con previsión mientras empleo estrategias proactivas. Como se mencionó anteriormente, crecí en la zona rural de Texas y ahora vivo en una gran ciudad urbana. El petróleo y el gas afectan la vida y el sustento de todos sin importar el entorno. Soy un abogado Tengo experiencia en litigios, no solo como abogado penal, sino como Fiscal General Adjunto. He desarrollado habilidades en la profesión legal que superan a las de ella en ser una defensora de la gente de Texas que tiene la oficina de la AG de su lado contra las corporaciones sin escrúpulos. También comencé en la escuela secundaria, trabajando después de la escuela para Legal Aid Texas Oficina de la Gente (oficina para la gente), y más tarde en la universidad en Legal Aid Texas en Corpus Christi como asistente legal.
Chrysta Castañeda
I am an engineer and an oil and gas attorney with over 30 years of experience working in and around the oil and gas industry. I have a J.D. cum laude from SMU Dedman School of Law and a B.S. Industrial Engineering from Kansas State University. I have the expertise and industry knowledge to make the Railroad Commission work better for all Texans and will work to enforce laws that are currently being ignored, including the laws prohibiting flaring -- the intentional lighting on fire of natural gas at the wellhead.
2. WHAT ARE YOUR TOP FEW PRIORITIES IF ELECTED?
Roberto R “Beto” Alonzo
According to the RRC: “Its statutory role is to (1) prevent waste of the state's natural resources, (2) to protect the correlative rights of different interest owners, (3) to prevent pollution, and (4) to provide safety in matters such as hydrogen sulfide.” As a Texas Railroad Commissioner, I will support its statutory goals and in addition, I will support and advocate for: (1) Protecting the environment and natural resources by preventing waste, reducing flaring and other activities causing pollution. (2) Increased and meaningful regulation of pipelines. (3) Supporting solar, wind and alternative energy sources. (4) Reduce the use of freshwater in oil and gas production and increase coordination with other agencies to protect our natural and water resources and park land. (5) Increased oversight of transportation operations associated with oil and gas development and operation. An overlooked problem in the rural areas is congestion and damage to roadways due to transportation operations associated with oil and gas development. We should continue working with industry, TXDOT and counties to increase funding to rural counties, government entities, and reduce congestion and accidents on roadways. (6) Increase safety measures to protect the environment and workers. Monitor compliance with regulatory requirements and increase enforcement
Como Comisionado de Ferrocarriles de Texas, apoyaré sus objetivos legales y, además, apoyaré y defenderé:
(1) Proteger el medio ambiente y los recursos naturales evitando el desperdicio, reduciendo la quema y otras actividades que causan contaminación.
(2) Regulación incrementada y significativa de tuberías.
(3) Apoyo a fuentes de energía solar, eólica y alternativa.
(4) Reducir el uso de agua dulce en la producción de petróleo y gas y aumentar la coordinación con otras agencias para proteger nuestros recursos naturales y de agua y parques.
(5) Mayor supervisión de las operaciones de transporte asociadas con el desarrollo y operación de petróleo y gas. Un problema que se pasa por alto en las áreas rurales es la congestión y el daño a las carreteras debido a las operaciones de transporte asociadas con el desarrollo de petróleo y gas. Deberíamos continuar trabajando con la industria, el TXDOT y los condados para aumentar la financiación a los condados rurales, entidades gubernamentales y reducir la congestión y los accidentes en las carreteras.
(6) Aumentar las medidas de seguridad para proteger el medio ambiente y los trabajadores. Supervise el cumplimiento de los requisitos reglamentarios y aumente la aplicación de las infracciones, incluida la revocación de permisos y el aumento de las sanciones, según sea necesario. Revise las prácticas de seguridad y prevención de accidentes y realice un estudio sobre la causa de los accidentes en el campo. Estudie el impacto de la "salmuera", una sustancia natural en los trabajadores que transportan para determinar si debe clasificarse como un material peligroso o si se debe dar una advertencia adicional a los transportistas.
Chrysta Castañeda
First, we should reduce the amount of flaring and fugitive emissions because they have a significant effect on our health and air quality. If producers can’t find more productive uses, at a minimum they could turn the natural gas they flare into electricity to power their wellsite operations or to sell excess electricity they produce to the grid. Recapture technologies are another appropriate alternative to flaring. Fugitive emissions -- those that escape from equipment, tanks, or elsewhere in the process -- are under-reported and need to be better monitored and reduced.
Second, we should cut water usage by increasing water recycling programs.
Third, we need to address the bureaucratic challenges facing the Railroad Commission. Antiquated regulations and resources; a competition for qualified and experienced personnel; current Railroad Commissioners who refuse to enforce existing laws; and under-funding.
3. THE RECENT VOLATILITY IN OIL AND GAS PRICES HAS HAD AN IMPACT ON THE TEXAS ECONOMY. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE RAILROAD COMMISSION'S DECISION NOT TO CUT OIL PRODUCTION? WHAT WOULD BE YOUR APPROACH UNDER THE CURRENT ECONOMIC CIRCUMSTANCES?
Roberto R “Beto” Alonzo
Chrysta Castañeda
The Commission has the authority to use proration -- the proportional limitation of oil production -- to limit the negative impacts of overproduction. It is charged with stewardship of our resources and to support the economic vitality of our energy industry to benefit Texans. Commissioners disregarded their duty to Texas by not maintaining or utilizing the tools to employ proration that has resulted in harm to the economic vitality of our energy industry. As Commissioner, I will ensure we have a plan to redeploy proration should the need arise.
4. WHAT RESPONSIBILITIES DOES THE RAILROAD COMMISSION HAVE IN ADDRESSING CLIMATE CHANGE AND PREPARING FOR OR RESPONDING TO NATURAL DISASTERS? HOW WOULD YOU WORK TO ADDRESS THESE ISSUES?
Roberto R “Beto” Alonzo
The Mission of RRC is to (1) prevent waste of states natural resources, (2) protect correlative rights of different property owners, (3) prevent pollution and to (4) provide safety. I believe that the RRC should be held accountable for policy, regulations, and enforcement measures to ensure implementation of its mission and goal.
Most recent seismic activity, earthquakes, are a result of fracking. although they are not "natural" disasters, they are dangerously affecting our natural state. I support the elimination of fracking and in the short term, I believe in giving communities local control, such as my vote in Denton's desire to prohibit fracking in their community.
Recent governing practices that I will immediately change are how to deal with a natural disaster like COVID-19. The RRC created a task force to deal with the glut and prospects of halting production and named O&G representatives - I will call for a task force that reflects our community, including environmentalists, elected officials, and community leaders.
La misión de RRC es (1) prevenir el desperdicio de los recursos naturales de los estados, (2) proteger los derechos correlativos de los diferentes propietarios, (3) prevenir la contaminación y (4) proporcionar seguridad. Creo que el CRR debería ser responsable de las políticas, regulaciones y medidas de aplicación para garantizar la implementación de su misión y objetivo.
La actividad sísmica más reciente, los terremotos, son el resultado del fracking. Aunque no son desastres "naturales", están afectando peligrosamente nuestro estado natural. Apoyo la eliminación del fracking y, a corto plazo, creo en dar a las comunidades control local, como mi voto en el deseo de Denton de prohibir el fracking en su comunidad.
Las prácticas de gobierno recientes que cambiaré de inmediato son cómo lidiar con un desastre natural como COVID-19. El RRC creó un grupo de trabajo para tratar el exceso y las perspectivas de detener la producción y nombró representantes de O&G: convocaré a un grupo de trabajo que refleje a nuestra comunidad, incluidos ambientalistas, funcionarios electos y líderes de la comunidad.
Chrysta Castañeda
The National Petroleum Council now recognizes that climate change is real and is impacted by human activities, including the burning of fossil fuels. Responsible companies are already changing their practices in response. We need to elect Commissioners who not only acknowledge this reality but are prepared to take action to mitigate it. This includes tamping down on intentional and inadvertent methane emissions and reducing flaring. We can start with the low-hanging fruit by converting the natural gas flared at wellsite operations into electricity to power onsite operations or to sell to the grid. The Commission can support emission reductions by offering best-practice education programs. Education should be coupled with a comprehensive leak detection program and increased enforcement if necessary.
Preparing for and responding to natural disasters requires a similar strategy -- education of best-practices to prepare for natural disasters, verification of compliance, and enforcement of violations.
We need better tracking and enforcement of violations at the Railroad Commission. Both require a bench of adequately trained and compensated professionals. I favor raising permit fees to provide greater availability and access to adequately trained and compensated professionals.
5. ALL OF THE CURRENT RAILROAD COMMISSIONERS ARE REPUBLICANS. IF ELECTED, HOW WOULD YOU APPROACH WORKING WITH YOUR FELLOW COMMISSIONERS TO ACHIEVE YOUR POLICY PRIORITIES?
Roberto R “Beto” Alonzo
I am a skilled legislator with over twenty years experience governing and working under a Republican led legislature. I will apply my knowledge and skills to always reach a positive solution. I served under a majority but divided Republican House. The Democrats found themselves working with the Republican moderates in order to quash the Tea Partiers. In another scenario, I along with the Democratic minority legislators went AWOL to stop the conservative Republican majority and their right-wing agenda. I'm a Killer-D, as the Democrats came to be known. I am the best candidate for Railroad Commissioner. I will start on day-one ready to make the necessary changes needed for a better Texas.
Soy un legislador experto con más de veinte años de experiencia gobernando y trabajando bajo una legislatura dirigida por los republicanos. Aplicaré mis conocimientos y habilidades para llegar siempre a una solución positiva. Serví bajo una mayoría, pero dividí la Casa Republicana. Los demócratas se encontraron trabajando con los moderados republicanos para aplastar a los Tea Party. En otro escenario, yo junto con los legisladores de las minorías demócratas me ausenté para detener a la conservadora mayoría republicana y su agenda de derecha. Soy un asesino-D, como se llegó a conocer a los demócratas. Soy el mejor candidato para Comisionado de Ferrocarriles. Comenzaré el primer día listo para hacer los cambios necesarios necesarios para un mejor Texas.
Chrysta Castañeda
I am already having an impact on the Commission just by running and speaking to the important issue of flaring. Commissioner Sitton released a report on flaring earlier this year and the current Commission created a task force to study how to curtail flaring. As a vote on the Commission, I can end the practice of granting flaring exception permits on consent agenda; this practice resulted in 27,000 approved permits in the past seven years.
Having someone on the Commission that will question current rubber-stamp practices will begin to make other changes for the better and will ensure our Commission governs in the best interest of Texans.
6. WOULD YOU SUPPORT CHANGING THE NAME OF THE RAILROAD COMMISSION TO SOMETHING MORE DESCRIPTIVE OF ITS ACTUAL RESPONSIBILITIES? WHY OR WHY NOT?
Roberto R “Beto” Alonzo
I support changing the name of the RRC to Oil & Gas Commission or to the Energy Commission. Either one or another name to reflect its true responsibility. As a legislator, I sponsored a bill to change the name to Oil & Gas Commission to reflect transparency and accurate governance. But the name is only the beginning. I will work tirelessly to ensure that the O&G Commission govern with the people, environment, and wildlife are protected while maintaining a vibrant economy. It can be done and I'm the one that will get it done.
Apoyo cambiar el nombre del RRC a Comisión de petróleo y gas o Comisión de energía. Uno u otro nombre para reflejar su verdadera responsabilidad. Como legislador, patrociné un proyecto de ley para cambiar el nombre de la Comisión de Petróleo y Gas a fin de reflejar la transparencia y la gobernanza precisa. Pero el nombre es solo el comienzo. Trabajaré incansablemente para asegurar que la Comisión de O&G gobierne con la gente, el medio ambiente y la vida silvestre estén protegidos mientras mantengo una economía vibrante. Se puede hacer y soy yo quien lo hará.
Chrysta Castañeda
The legislature should rename the Railroad Commission to better reflect its duty to oversee oil and gas here in Texas. I would support a name like the Oil and Gas Commission or the Texas Energy Resource Commission.
The Legislature should also consider empowering one or more commissions and agencies to develop a comprehensive energy plan, and it should include all potential energy sources: oil and gas, renewables, current electricity generators, and others. No one agency currently has power over the whole energy portfolio. The plan should focus on dependability and security. This commission or agency could be called the Texas Energy Commission.
7. ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO ADD?
Roberto R “Beto” Alonzo
I believe that being transparent as a candidate is important. I have stated publicly that I will not take money from the O&G in the form of contract work. I never have in my twenty plus years as a public servant and I never will. My opponent has yet to this date has not committed to not accepting contact work from them. I also want to add that I am a Democrat Democrat with Democratic values as reflected on my life's work. There is no room for doubt in my personal or professional ethics or character.
I will end by stating that my candidacy bring diversity to the ticket. As the only Hispanic candidate running statewide in Texas, my candidacy will compliment the ticket and make Texas Democrats stronger for a win. We will turn Texas Blue and turn around the country.
Creo que ser transparente como candidato es importante. He declarado públicamente que no tomaré dinero de O&G en forma de trabajo por contrato. Nunca he tenido más de veinte años como servidor público y nunca lo haré. Mi oponente aún no se ha comprometido hasta la fecha a no aceptar el trabajo de contacto de ellos. También quiero agregar que soy demócrata demócrata con valores demócratas reflejados en el trabajo de mi vida. No hay lugar a dudas en mi ética o carácter personal o profesional.
Terminaré declarando que mi candidatura aporta diversidad al boleto. Como el único candidato hispano que se postula en todo el estado de Texas, mi candidatura complementará el boleto y hará que los demócratas de Texas sean más fuertes para ganar. Cambiaremos de color a Texas Blue y daremos la vuelta al país.
Chrysta Castañeda
I encourage you to visit my website chrystafortexas.com to learn more. Sign up to follow or volunteer with my campaign.

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