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Railroad Commission chairman wants better border security

Texas Railroad Commission Chairman David Porter said the 425,000 miles of pipeline in Texas could be a target of terrorist attacks.
Texas Railroad Commission Chairman David Porter said the 425,000 miles of pipeline in Texas could be a target of terrorist attacks. AP

In the wake of Friday’s terrorist attack in Paris, Texas Railroad Commission Chairman David Porter is renewing his plea to the Obama administration to better protect the state’s critical pipeline infrastructure along the U.S.-Mexico border.

In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, Porter said that in August 2014 he sent a similar letter about border and pipeline security after reports that illegal immigrants from countries that sponsor terrorism had been caught sneaking into the country from Mexico.

“In light of the tragedy in Paris, I feel compelled to reiterate concerns I have vocalized about the security of our energy industry — the backbone of our state and national economies — and more importantly, about the safety and well-being of Texans,” Porter wrote.

“More than 425,000 miles of pipeline are in place to carry our state’s oil and gas to market, and a significant portion of this infrastructure is in the Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas, which remains vulnerable due to its proximity to the unsecured border,” his letter states.

I shudder to think what these terrorists would do to the U.S. when they are willing to launch these kinds of attacks against their own countries.

Texas Railroad Commission Chairman David Porter

The Railroad Commission is the chief regulatory agency for the state’s oil and gas industry.

Porter referenced a New York Times report of attacks in June in France, Kuwait and Tunisia within hours of each other. In the incident in France, a man stormed an American-owned chemical plant, decapitated one person and apparently tried to blow up the facility, the newspaper reported. He also mentioned a CNN report in 2013 of how militants blew up a major oil pipeline in Yemen.

“I shudder to think what these terrorists would do to the U.S. when they are willing to launch these kinds of attacks against their own countries,” Porter wrote. “Given the fact that Texas accounts for nearly 40 percent of U.S. crude oil and almost 30 percent of our country’s natural gas, events like this could have a potentially devastating impact on our state and national economies.”

Porter does not make any specific recommendations about how to toughen security along the border.

The border patrol should be protecting our people and industry from terrorists, and not acting as a nanny-service

Texas Railroad Commission Chairman David Porter in 2014

No one at the Department of Homeland Security in Washington, D.C., was immediately available for comment.

Porter, a Republican and a CPA who practiced in Midland providing services to oil and gas producers, is up for re-election in 2016 and has been a frequent critic of the Obama administration. In June, he said “our state and its regulatory framework are under attack from Washington, D.C.,” particularly from environmental regulations and President Barack Obama's “war on fossil fuels.”

He also wrote a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry in 2014 about a “loophole” that allowed a Russian oil and gas cartel to lobby in Congress against imposed sanctions. Porter said Gazprom has hired international public relations and lobbying firms with the mission of backing anti-hydraulic fracturing efforts in the U.S. By doing so, the market for Russia’s natural gas would increase.

Max B. Baker: 817-390-7714, @MaxbakerBB

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