Texas Railroad Commission media policy raises concerns

Jun 19, 2014

State Rep. Jim Keffer, R-Eastland, and Steve Brown, the Democratic candidate for Texas railroad commissioner.
State Rep. Jim Keffer, R-Eastland, and Steve Brown, the Democratic candidate for Texas railroad commissioner.
Credit texastribune.org

A recent story on the Railroad Commission of Texas’ practice of not allowing staff to talk to the media has raised some questions according to a recent article from the Texas Tribune.

A key Republican lawmaker and a Democratic candidate for railroad commissioner are among those expressing concerns about the agency’s transparency.

State Rep. Jim Keffer, R-Eastland is the chairman of the House Energy Resources Committee.  Steve Brown is running for the open seat on the commission.  They say the state’s oil and gas regulator should adjust its policies to ensure the public understands how environmental and safety issues of the drilling boom are being handled.

“I really wish they would reconsider," Keffer said in an interview. “If you’re going to be held to the high bar of a fair regulator, then you cannot leave any gray area.”

Brown said it was “unfortunate that they feel it’s of their best policy to keep the public in the dark.”

Ramona Nye, the agency spokeswoman who handles nearly every media request, stood by the media policy and declined to answer specific questions about it.

You can learn more about the concerns from the Texas Tribune.