Public Citizen Texas, an environmental watchdog group, has issued its comments on the Sunset Commission’s report recommending changes at the Texas Railroad Commission. Its comments can be viewed here. The comments largely agree with the Sunset Commission’s recommendations, but in several areas recommend additional reforms. I think Public Citizen’s comments on lack of transparency are particularly appropriate:
There is an astounding lack of transparency at the RRC compared to other states. Many have searchable databases and statistics on their websites relating to inspections, complaints, and enforcement actions, by individual operator and in the aggregate. While the RRC is busy on social media putting out self-serving tweets, no useful statistics or information regarding these issues is readily available on their website. Examples of better practices:
Colorado has easily searchable databases and a wealth of information available online: inspection/incident inquiries; facility inquiries; spill data, updated monthly; spill analysis by year; water-well data, updated monthly; field inspection reports; quarterly and annual enforcement reports.In Pennsylvania, the public can search for individual permits, operators,wells/facilities, inspections, and by program, oil and gas production information, permits issued, drilling commence date, county data, operator specific data, as well as inspections, violations and enforcement actions.And notably, much more information regarding enforcement issues can be found on the TCEQ [Texas Commission on Environmental Quality] website.