WASHINGTON D.C. –– Railroad Commission Chairman Barry Smitherman, in testimony today before the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s subcommittee on Energy and Power, said that anti-fossil initiatives by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are threatening the domestic development of abundant and affordable energy from coal and natural gas.
“We now have abundant supplies of natural gas in the United States,” Smitherman said. “Through horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing techniques (developed by the private sector, not government), we have seen a 180-degree turnaround from just five years ago. In late 2008, natural gas prices were at an all-time high, and there was much uncertainty about supply. Today, the United States is awash in natural gas - but we face a different problem.
“The EPA, through its anti-fossil, rule-making initiatives, is dramatically limiting America’s ability to burn coal as a means of meeting the growing electricity demands of our homes, businesses and industries. Now, efforts abound to stop hydraulic fracturing,” Smitherman said. “At the Railroad Commission, we continue to take proactive steps with the intention of implementing industry best practices throughout the hydraulic fracturing process. Examples of such steps include implementing some of the first frac fluid disclosure requirements, updating well integrity rules, and working toward a recycling rule which will remove current impediments to recycling, and thereby encourage oil and gas operations to do more recycling.
“These proactive measures demonstrate that state regulation, which is closest to domestic energy development actions, not a federal one size fits all rule, is the best policy to ensure continued production of abundant and affordable natural gas. The key to keeping our nation’s natural gas momentum going is to limit interference from EPA. Without hydraulic fracturing, our incredible supply of natural gas disappears, prices for gas and electricity skyrocket, and our economy stops dead in its tracks.”
Chairman Barry Smitherman was appointed to the Railroad Commission of Texas in July 2011, and was elected Chairman in February 2012. In November 2012, Chairman Smitherman won a statewide election to the Commission with 74 percent of the vote, receiving more than 4.5 million votes. Chairman Smitherman currently serves as Texas’ representative on both the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission and the Southern States Energy Board, and as Chair of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners’ Gas Committee. He is on the Visiting Committee of the Bureau of Economic Geology with the Jackson School of Geosciences at The University of Texas at Austin, The University of Texas School of Law Center for Global Energy, International Arbitration, and Environmental Law, and the Eanes Education Foundation Advisory Board.