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We Ought to Franchise the Texas Railroad Commission Like Kentucky Fried Chicken

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The Texas Railroad Commission, for reasons that I assume have to do with keeping an antiquated state agency relevant, regulates energy policy for the Lone Star State. The TRC met with President Obama recently.*

What kind of quality energy policy advice did our Texan friends give for the president?

Take John Tintera, executive director of the energy regulating Texas Railroad Commission, who said, “Frankly, we ought to franchise the Texas Railroad Commission like Kentucky Fried Chicken and make a little money off of it. This is the last state that needs additional federal oversight.”

Yes, it’s hard to see why Texas would need more federal oversight, given its notoriously high rankings in every social index. Moreover, what possible problems could result from franchising energy policy to anyone who wants to make a buck? It’s hard to think of any problems at all!

* How annoying must it be for a man like President Obama to have to meet with a bunch of morons like the Texas Railroad Commission.

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  • Malaclypse

    This is the last state that needs additional federal oversight.

    I completely agree. In fact, if there is a God, please, let these morons secede. We’ll gladly offer sanctuary to anyone who drives up to the border with a “I [heart] Molly Ivins” bumper sticker on their F150.

    • Honorable Bob

      I think Texas already tried to secede once already. That didn’t work out at all.

      While you apparently don’t like Texas or Texans very much, there’s a lot of peopl that do.

      Here’s an intereactive map showing who’s moving where. Click on Houston or Dallas and you’ll see people moving in droves from California and the NorthEast.

      Low unemployment, no state income tax, low cost of living, mild climate, friendly people and great lifestyle make Texas very attractive to lots of people.

      • Actually Texas committed treason to defend slavery twice, a special honor. But for Bob, that’s a positive.

        • Honorable Bob

          I was unaware that a state could commit treason.

          • Uncle Kvetch

            The list of things you’re unaware of is apparently infinite.

            • Lurker

              Actually, Hon. Bob is correct. The State of Texas did not commit treason or leave the state. When the legislature of that state decided to secede, the legal personality of the state shifted. The “State of Texas” that remained in the union became a shadow that later became the basis of the reconstruction government.

              The confederate state of Texas was an illegal conspiracy that usurped the legal power within the borders of Texas. It did not have the power to do any actions that would have any bearing on the law of the Union: all its decisions were null and void. Thus, the state of Texas did not commit treason. Only the majority of its legislators did.

              • Uncle Kvetch

                Thus, the state of Texas did not commit treason. Only the majority of its legislators did.

                Yes. Those of us with basic reading comprehension skills all knew exactly what Erik meant, but I guess our resident troll actually needed it explained to him.

                Apparently when Bob hears “We’re expecting a statement from the White House” he thinks the building is suddenly going to start talking.

              • He Dog

                Actually, there was a referendum on Feb 23rd, 1861. (Hey, the traitors have a anniversary coming up!)

                So we can say that about 46,000 voting Texans were traitors….

          • (the other) Davis

            Synecdoche, how the fuck does it work?

      • Well, the low unemployment thing will likely go away whenever the GOP-dominated Texas Lege gets back into session. Texas isn’t going to have enough money to cover its bills — largely because of the state’s damn foolish refusal to ever raise taxes — and the smart money is that the legislators will lay off vast numbers of state employees to cover the gap and then put off the rest of the problem until they meet again.

        • Honorable.Bob

          None of that is true.

          “Sour Grapes” doesn’t become you.

          Texas is a model that would behoove other states to take a look at if they’re really concerned about jobs, quality of life, etc.

          Take a look at the blue states with their high taxes and low growth. How’s that CA and NY economy workin’ for ya’?

          There are few, if any, states that are beating Texas on the economy. Sorry to disappoint you.

          • Malaclypse

            Shorter Bob: I don’t understand statistics, but I do trust Fox News!

      • witless chum

        You can’t even do tourist bureau shit accurately, Bob?

        Texas does not have a mild climate. It’s really goddamn broiling hot in the summers and they can get those crazy plains blizzards in North Texas in the winter. Also, lots more tornados than we get in the Midwest.

        Personally, I wouldn’t live in Dallas for all the Bells in Kalamazoo, but that’s a matter of personal choice. I can’t stand endless suburbs and lack of real, green trees. I also didn’t notice anything particularly friendly about the people there on my visit. They seemed the same as people anywhere else, on average. Although, I believe Medusa herself works at the Dallas Amtrak station.

        • Well, the state’s large enough to have a mild-weather belt — in the summer, that generally means Lubbock and the Panhandle — pretty comfortably mild, temperature-wise, though they’ve suffered through several years of droughts. The Panhandle has some seriously awful winters, usually… but the rest of the state seems to be catching up with them there.

          I live north of Dallas, and it’s agonizingly hot in the summer… and it’s far worse when you travel south, where the temperatures and humidity are even higher. And Houston, Austin, and San Antonio have cockroaches the size of spaniels. :(

          • DrDick

            Living in the Texas Panhandle, or Lubbock, is its own punishment.

            • I’ve lived both places, and generally liked ’em. I mean, it’s not like it’s Oklahoma, fer graud’s sake.

              Nevertheless, living there made me endlessly thankful for the Internet, and for Amazon.

              • nonunique

                I mean, it’s not like it’s Oklahoma, fer graud’s sake.

                Indeed…with OK (particularly NE OK) being the far better choice in that instance.

                • DrDick

                  Having grown up in Bartlesville, I would definitely agree. The weather is not as hellish and there are actual trees and topographic relief.

                • wengler

                  Welcome fellow Bartian.

                  The grass is brown but they call it Green Country for a reason(just like Greenland).

                • DrDick

                  Welcome fellow Bartian.

                  Sooner High Class of ’70. My son currently lives there with his family.

                  At least there is grass and it is pretty green in the spring. Doesn’t turn brown until July.

                • wengler

                  I went to elementary and middle school there in the early to mid-90s before moving away.

                  It’s a unique town in both good and bad ways. When it comes to Phillips, mostly bad.

                • DrDick

                  It’s a unique town in both good and bad ways.

                  It was not a bad place to grow up, but there are lots of reasons I left right after high school and have never had any desire to go back, except to see my family.

                  You are several years younger than my son, who will be 39 in April.

          • cheap wino

            “. . . they’ve suffered through several years of droughts.”

            You say that is if you expect that not to continue.

            • No, no, I expect it to continue. I hope it’s not as bad as last year, but I haven’t seen any reason to think it’ll end… :(

      • mattH

        Here’s an intereactive map showing who’s moving where. Click on Houston or Dallas and you’ll see people moving in droves from California and the NorthEast.

        Low unemployment, no state income tax, low cost of living, mild climate, friendly people and great lifestyle make Texas very attractive to lots of people.

        You know about the number of RVers who list Texas as their permanent state of residence right? The Forbes map you link to is based on income tax returns and exemption, not the number of people who actually moved into a county, so it’s going to be hard to filter that out.

      • Furious Jorge

        Yes, that low unemployment rate brought on by stealing jobs from surrounding states.

        • wengler

          And a very strong energy sector that is intent on destroying the country’s economic future.

        • Honorable.Bob

          Yes, that low unemployment rate brought on by stealing jobs from surrounding states.

          No one forces business to relocate to Texas. CA and NY drives them to Texas with their war on business.

          And a very strong energy sector that is intent on destroying the country’s economic future.

          This statement I just don’t get. How does a strong energy sector destroy the country’s economic future? Energy is what drives the economy.

    • The only way that I would support the idea of Texas secession is if Bush didn’t get to stay here.

  • Robert Farley

    Mmmm…. KFC.

    • Malaclypse

      But will they tell the truth behind the legend?

      • Honorable Bob

        gotta tell ya’…that’s the funniest thing I’ve seen in a while.
        Thanks!

    • Uncle Kvetch

      Mmmm…. KFC.

      Yeah…I used to love it.

  • Lurker

    I could understand why a “railroad commission” regulates energy policy. This is likely to have been caused by the fact that movement of coal was the primary energy political factor to be regulated during the late 19th century. And coal moves on tracks. Thus, it makes sense for the railroad commission to regulate it. Then, it later takes on additional responsibilities, but because many US states like to retain the old names of their agencies, the name doesn’t change.

    If anyone knows better, please tell the true story.

    • mattH

      Molly Ivins had something about it, but my Google-fu is weak atm and I can’t find anything about it. IIRC it had something to do with regulatory capture and post-civil war reconstruction, but damned if I can find it.

    • Tcaalaw

      Not much coal production in Texas that I’m aware of. Wikipedia (yes, I know) traces it to the fact that the commission was given control of pipelines (presumably because these were viewed as being substitutes for rail transportation): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Texas_Railroad_Commission#Expansion_to_oil

  • witless chum

    And y’know, Obama doesn’t have meet with these boobs. He can issue a press release saying:

    “My administration’s policy will be to meet with the organ grinder and not the monkey in most cases. Thus, I’ll just chat with the chairmen or chairwomen of energy companies when it seems good to me to do so and the Texas Railroad commission can concentrate it’s energies on remodeling the Amtrak station in Tyler and polishing the shoes of the above-mentioned chairmen and chairwomen. I won’t offer them advice on which brand of polish to use and I hope they’ll do me the same courtesy.”

    Meeting with people like this does no good and may do bad by slightly legitimizing them.

    • NBarnes

      I would contribute a limb to the cause of having this actually happen.

  • DrDick

    Molly Ivins was exactly right in saying that Texas was the National Laboratory for Bad Government. This is just example 9,387,259 confirming this.

  • ajay

    Frankly, we ought to franchise the Texas Railroad Commission like Kentucky Fried Chicken and make a little money off of it.

    This isn’t just a bad idea, it’s incomprehensible. How would this even work? Is he proposing that I could pay $250,000 and open up a Texas Railroad Commission office in Lubbock? And then do what? Go round demanding fees from passing oil wells? Sell t-shirts? It’s like something out of Snow Crash.

    • BigHank53

      Not to mention that a resident of Texas might actually remember a company by the name of Enron, and the hijinks they got up to.

      • Honorable.Bob

        ENRON was exactly what Obama was trying to set up cap and trade. They were the “trade” part of that.

        It was a bad idea when ENRON did it and it’s still a bad idea when Obama proposes it.

    • NBarnes

      You’re thinking of the Railroad Commission as more of a regulatory body than a for-profit enterprise. This is where the confusion lies. The idea here is to capture more of the revenue stream that leads from energy companies through the Railroad Commission into public funds, as opposed to the current situation where it all ends up in the pocket of Commission members.

    • Malaclypse

      Uncle Enzio is, if nothing else, a creative problem-solver.

  • Ken

    How annoying must it be for a man like President Obama to have to meet with a bunch of morons like the Texas Railroad Commission.

    Should I ever become President, my first act will be remodeling the Oval Office to install trapdoors in front of the desk, with a selection of buttons to drop visitors into pits of sharks, snakes, spikes, and other S-words.

    (Hmm, between that and my “All house numbers must be illuminated at night” plank, I may have a workable campaign.)

    • You’ll have my vote if you also include the death penalty for anyone doing the wave at a sporting event.

    • BigHank53

      You’ve already shown more common sense and coherence than Gingrich. Admittedly, it’s a low bar.

    • allium

      Have you considered some sort of spring-mounted platform, explosive bolts around the ceiling medallion or the picture windows, and a tastefully understated set of concentric rings somewhere on the South Lawn?

    • NBarnes

      So say we all!

  • JoyfulA

    At least Texas taxes oil and gas production, unlike Corbett’s Pennsylvania!

  • efgoldman

    One of the last viable Dems in TX was a fellow named Hightower, who was head of the Railroad Commission, no?

    • Mrs Tilton

      Hightower is a member in good standing of that tiny, endangered, but admirable tribe, the Texas Liberal, like the late lamented Molly Ivins and Joe Bob Briggs.

    • rbcoover

      Agriculture. He ran for the railroad position and lost.

      • Davis X. Machina

        Upset in 1990 by Rick Perry, IIRC. Back when they both were Democrats.

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