“Mark Miller, the Libertarian Party candidate, has been endorsed by four major Texas newspapers. His campaign focuses on responsible fracking procedures, rights of surface property owners in drilling areas, and the need to rename the commission to the Texas Oil and Gas Commission.”
The misnamed Texas Railroad Commission (TRC), which actually regulates crude oil and natural gas production, may soon encounter significant change. Dr. Mark Miller, a Stanford University petroleum engineering PhD, former University of Texas professor, and oilfield entrepreneur is campaigning for a seat on the three-seat Commission.
Charged with the inherently conflicting goals of both promoting and regulating oil and gas in Texas, the Commission has long been a refuge for cronyism and aspiring politicians lacking any credible qualifications for the position. In its earlier life, TRC’s “market proration authority” was used as a template by OPEC for international supply restrictions.
In an unprecedented development, Mark Miller, the Libertarian Party candidate, has been endorsed by four major Texas newspapers. His campaign focuses on responsible fracking procedures, rights of surface property owners in drilling areas, and the need to rename the commission to the Texas Oil and Gas Commission.
To legitimize his candidacy the Houston Chronicle stated:
With impressive clarity and authority, Miller offers well-informed opinions on a litany of arcane issues involving the energy industry: why the Texas Legislature needs to resolve the conflict between the owners of surface rights and mineral rights, why the state should dramatically reduce the number of permits for flaring natural gas, why Texas needs to figure out how to plug oil wells left unplugged by companies that go bankrupt. This guy clearly knows what he’s talking about.
The San Antonio Express-News said:
Third Party candidates are usually interesting and well-intentioned but a little too fringe to serve the greater public good. Miller is a true exception. He knows the issues and he consistently strikes the right balance between industry needs and protecting public health and safety.
The Dallas Morning News stated:
As the only candidate who offers oil and gas expertise, a passion for limited government and a plan for industry accountability, Miller is the best choice in this race.
The Corpus-Christi Caller explained its endorsement:
Libertarian Railroad Commission candidate Mark Miller has been racking up an impressive list of newspaper endorsements in addition to ours…. He’d be a worthy candidate regardless of the competition and regardless of party affiliation.
Miller is a petroleum engineer with a doctorate from Stanford, 18 years on the faculty at the University of Texas, and private-sector experience. Those who know what the Railroad Commission is about — that it no longer has anything to do with railroads — can appreciate his credentials. The commission’s main function these days is as a regulator of the oil and gas industry — an extremely friendly regulator.
As a Libertarian, Miller leans philosophically toward light regulation. But he recognizes the necessity and that there hasn’t been nearly enough of it. He wants the state to acknowledge the connection between drilling activity and seismic events — and to deal with it judiciously. Libertarians also are big on property rights, and he sees a need to remedy some of the imbalance that mineral rights owners enjoy over surface rights owners.
It all adds up to levelheaded oversight of an industry in need of it — by someone whose education and life’s work is connected to the petroleum industry and who therefore can appreciate it better than most.
Miller has written a primer, Oil & Gas and the Texas Railroad Commission: Lessons for Regulating a Free Society, which will be the subject of tomorrow’s post. His website and Facebook page explains his candidacy and views, as does this television interview.
NOTE: This post is about Mark Miller’s views and is not an endorsement and for his candidacy, nor is it a call to vote in this or any election. Restated, this post is intended to be educational and not political.