Texas Railroad Commission discusses possibility and timeline of moving toward renewable energy

Texas Politics

AUSTIN (Nexstar) — The Texas Railroad Commission, the agency in charge of regulating the state’s oil and gas industry, is weighing in on how the incoming Biden administration could impact those industries here in Texas.

President-elect Joe Biden has said he would like to move away from the oil and gas industry.

“I would transition from the oil industry, yes,” Biden said, during the second presidential debate in October.

Although the timeline for that transition is not clear, two commissioners with the Railroad Commission do not think now is the time.

“I think that if we’re going to look at technology, and we’re going to look at renewable sources, they need to be a source that could stand on its own two feet,” recently-elected Commissioner Jim Wright explained.

He said Texas is not ready for the transition yet, because the technology for renewable energy, which includes wind turbines and solar panels, is not where it needs to be yet to solely rely on these sources.

“I think they need to, they need to be looked at from a consumer standpoint, and what’s that energy costing me? And if those things can get satisfied, then I’m all for it,” Wright explained.

He added there also needs to be environmental regulations on these renewable energy sources, which right now are not required by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

Commissioner Wayne Christian said oil and gas remain the more cost-effective options, for now.

“Wind, the taxpayer pays, like 50 something dollars per unit of electricity, whereas solar is another large unit of costs, several 100 plus dollars on gas cost the taxpayer right now 39 cents,” Wright said.

He also explained there is not an immediate need to ditch the industry.

“In 2016, just before I came to office, we had I believe there are 34 billion barrels of oil, and about the equivalent amount of natural gas as reserves in the United States from Alaska through Brownsville,” Wright said. “In West Texas [in 2017], it’s something like potentially, they’re estimating somewhere around 200 and 230 billion barrels.”

Wright explained that means the new discovery now leaves the industry here in Texas to last another estimated 500 years.

“So that means do we need to emergency fund something with taxpayer dollars? Or an immediate need for energy? No,” Wright said, also pointing to changes over the last few decades to make oil production cleaner.

We did reach out to Commissioner Cristi Craddick for comment, but she declined.

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