Texas

Texas Railroad Commissioner drops re-election plans

Texas Railroad Commissioner David Porter talks with residents of Azle and Reno about earthquake activity and the suspected link to fracking.
Texas Railroad Commissioner David Porter talks with residents of Azle and Reno about earthquake activity and the suspected link to fracking.

Texas Railroad Commissioner David Porter will not be running for re-election after all.

​Meanwhile, former Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson says he might vie for Porter's seat. He plans to make a decision by the end of the week. ​

Porter, the railroad commission’s chairman, announced Thursday that he will be exiting a primary battle against longtime Republican activist, attorney and lobbyist John Greytok.

“After much thought and consideration, my wife Cheryl and I have decided to withdraw from my race for re-election to the Railroad Commission," Porter said in a statement. "This decision was not an easy one, but I feel that all the goals I set out to achieve were accomplished during my tenure. Now is a good time to focus on my family and my return to the private sector."

In a statement saying he was considering a run, Patterson said Texas is "facing two Jihads," one by "foreign terrorists," the other by "domestic 'terrorists' to manipulate public opinion against the oil and gas industry."

"As Texas Land Commissioner managing the oil and gas portfolio of the Permanent School Fund, I set all-time revenue records," Patterson wrote. "...My experience is deep and wide. I will be able to perform the duties of Railroad Commissioner on day one."

Porter, who formerly ran a Midland accounting firm that catered to oil and gas companies, was elected to the three-member commission in 2010. And he took over as chairman in June.

At the agency (which also regulates mining, pipeline safety and natural gas utilities, but not railroads), Porter launched the Eagle Ford Shale Task Force, a collection of public officials, industry leaders, landowners and environmentalists who discussed issues surrounding oil and gas development in Texas’ drilling country. He has also pushed Texas to find new uses for natural gas – particularly as a fuel for automobiles.

Last year, as Denton was preparing to vote on the hydraulic fracturing ban that the Legislature has since outlawed, activists mocked Porter and the commission after he was one of two commissioners to raise the specter – without evidence – that Russians were trying to shape the anti-fracking message in the North Texas town.

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