Guide to 2020 Democratic Railroad Commissioner Primary

Spoiler Alert: The Railroad Commission has nothing to do with railroads. It is actually the main regulatory body of the oil and gas industry in Texas, making it one of the most important governmental bodies in Texas and the entire country. It is a three person commission, with all seats currently held by Republicans. Below I will give a short overview of individuals running in the RRC’s Democratic Primary.

Kelly Stone, Mark Watson, Chrysta CastaƱeda, and Roberto Alonzo are the four candidates vying for the Democratic nomination to run for this statewide seat. Kelly stands out from her peers in that she takes the most liberal stance on issues and is willing to use the office of RRC to make serious inroads towards fighting climate change. Her competitors are much more moderate and also have connections to the Oil and Gas industry. On a purely Republican committee, I recommend a vote for Kelly Stone, adding a sorely needed liberal voice to the climate change debate in Texas.

Kelly Stone
Profession : Professor
Key Facts:
– Ban fracking
– Has signed the Green New Deal Pledge
– Does not accept donations more than $200 from Oil and Gas connections
– End the process of flaring, which currently allows companies to burn off excess gas into the atmosphere, instead of capturing it, leading to higher carbon emissions.

Verdict: Kelly is the most liberal of the RRC candidates. Signing onto the GND and expressing that she wants to ban fracking sets her way apart from her competitors. It seems that while her candidates are focused on less waste of oil and gas, she is actively pursuing a decrease and transition to renewable. If she were to be the first Democrat elected statewide in Texas in 25 years, that would be a game changer. Highly recommended.

Mark Watson
Profession: Lawyer
Key Facts:
– End flaring
– Extend tax credits on solar
– Stronger pipeline regulations and monitoring
– Is a working interest owner in an Oil and Gas firm

Verdict: Has many of the same stances as his competitors. When it comes to regulatory bodies though, I am partial to candidates who do not have connections to the industry they are meant to regulate.

Chrysta CastaƱeda
Profession: Lawyer for Oil and Gas
Key Facts:
– End flaring
– Reclaiming water used for fracking, plugging oil wells, and more oversight over pipeline maintenance and methane waste

Verdict: Seems to be the establishment Democratic party choice. She has the most democratic club endorsements and is the most well funded of the campaigns. As I recently mentioned, I’m weary of electing someone with such strong connections to the Oil and Gas industry to regulate it.

Roberto Alonzo
Profession: Lawyer, Former State Legislator
Key Facts:
– Wants more stringent applications for operation permits including environmental, community, and economic impact
– Increase safety measures
– Stronger regulations for pipelines

Verdict: As with Chrysta and Mark, Roberto is interested in making the Oil and Gas industry safer in Texas and decreasing pollution due to flaring, spills, etc. At a point in time where we really need to be moving off of fossil fuels, I am more interested in candidates working to lessen our dependence on fossil fuels vs. those working to preserve the industry through mitigation of adverse effects. I don’t think that’s enough.

Cited Sources
League of Women Voters’ Voter Guide
Houston Chronicle Voter Guide
Fort Worth Star Telegram
Fundraising Numbers