Weston Martinez – Dallas Morning News Questionnaire

What is an example of how you led a team or group toward achieving an important goal?

As Statewide Texas Real Estate Commissioner I served as Chairman of the Budget committee, where I had to be fiscally responsible while looking at the future needs of the public and the agency. This included all concerns such as future license needs and upcoming legislative directives, retirement and retention of employees.  This required a public presentation and a vote by the commission as a whole.  This required strict adherence to the Texas open meetings act whereby the public was properly informed.

Why are you running for this office?

This office presents the perfect opportunity to put my oil and gas experience to work for the people of Texas, and ensure that the Texas Railroad Commission remains committed to conservative principles and reasonable regulation so the oil and gas industry in our state continues to thrive. Whether it’s developing solutions to complex challenges like potential induced seismicity, or fighting the assault on Texas oil and gas, I’ll wake up every day to do my very best for all Texans and the promotion of our Texas values.  I jumped in the last primary on the last day, where there were multiple well-funded candidates.  I received 250,000 votes from the great citizens of Texas, which I am looking to build upon.

Why should voters choose you over your opponent?

I Served 6+ years as Texas Real Estate Commissioner: I understand the mechanics of a Texas Commission and the role of a commissioner. I was confirmed by the Senate after being appointed by Governor Perry and now serve under Governor Abbott fulfilling my entire term. Engaged Conservative leader: as explained above I have been at the forefront of every conservative political fight we have recently faced. Not a lawyer. Weston is the only candidate in this race who actively endorsed and supported Ted Cruz and then Republican Nominee Donald Trump.

To be more specific here are some additional distinctions partially shown below:

*Weston Martinez will be a fair and predictable Commissioner who regulates only with our conservative’s governmental principles and values.

* Weston Martinez will repeal the Tax/fee created on the industry.

* Weston Martinez won’t be taking votes to personally benefit my individual holdings.

* Weston Martinez won’t treat the commission as my personal business.

* Weston Martinez will make sure all operators and landowners are heard not just the Huge ones.

* Weston Martinez will treat staff with basic professionalism and respect

* Weston Martinez won’t run the rail road commission like a dictator but as a Servant leader.

*If we don’t have energy independence we will never have liberty.

Length of residency in Texas:  Lifetime 42 years

What political leader do you most admire and why?

Teddy Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln, both in my opinion put the people first.

What is the biggest challenge facing the Railroad Commission and how would you remedy it?

Protect land owners and business owners and stop running commission like a dictatorship.

For land owners we must always focus on making changes at the commission that better protect private property rights while still encouraging oil and gas development. How we deal with allocation wells (wells drilled across multiple tracts of land where the production is allocated by the operator) would be one example of how we can strengthen land owners’ rights and still encourage development.

Business owners want to be treated fairly, and work in an environment of predictability.

Staff treatment must professional and legal.

Railroad commissioners have been criticized for taking money from the oil and gas industry that they regulate. Are there specific promises on political contributions you would make or rules you would propose to assure voters you are acting independently?

It’s simple, don’t take donations from people who have items pending or will have pending before the commission. Don’t let commissioners vote on items that directly line their pocket books. Having over 6+ years of experience as a Statewide Texas Commissioner in another agency, Texans know that I am committed to transparency. We have had a problem at the RRC with this and at times its appropriate to recuse one’s self and make sure the other commissioners and the public are advised of the reason why. I will always put the public interests above my own.

Would you support or oppose rules limiting the solicitation and receipt of campaign contributions by a commissioner or candidate to within 18 months of an election, rather than throughout the full six-year term?

Campaign contributions are equivalent with free speech and I would not this. Commissioners should know when to say no to a contribution. If they’ve proven they don’t, like my opponent, voters should vote them out of office.

Should commissioners be prohibited from knowingly accepting contributions from a party with a contested case before the commission? 

I would not accept contributions from parties with a contested case before the commission and I would encourage other commissioners to follow suit.

Based on several studies, an SMU team has determined that injection wells play a role in local earthquakes — specifically, that high-pressure disposal of fluids involved in hydraulic fracturing could be reactivating dormant seismic fault lines. What, if any, regulatory steps should the Railroad Commission take to mitigate the volume of earthquakes? 

The threat is real and at the RRC we must apply science without emotion.  Disposal wells can cause earthquakes, period. The challenge is to craft rules for the one percent of wells that may be located near a critically stressed fault that is properly oriented  without unnecessarily burdening operators whose wells pose no risk of inducing seismicity. A separate review was conducted by the RRC after the SMU study that helped investigate seismicity associated with disposal applications. The commission has in fact denied applications because the science indicated it was the prudent thing to do to avoid potential induced seismicity.  As a Railroad commissioner, I will be open minded and objective with no predisposition to the outcome. I will ensure that public safety comes first and corners won’t be cut. Good responsible operators will be recognized, and bad ones will be admonished.

Some say the Railroad Commission doesn’t hand out enough penalties for violations and lacks consistent measurements for severity or repeat offenses. What would you do to make sure enforcement has teeth? 

The vast majority of operators in Texas do good business and follow RRC rules. However, there are some companies that consistently violate the rules and those companies should be punished. If elected to the RRC, I’ll push for enforcement rules that significantly punish repeat offenders. If an operator messes up inadvertently a time or two, the RRC should help them achieve compliance. If an operator chronically breaks the rules, they should face steep penalties that dis-incentivize that behavior.

Should the commission develop a comprehensive energy plan for Texas? If so, what should be the thrust of that plan?

No. Any plan the government develops is going to be way behind where the market is. The only “plan” the commission should develop is consistent and predictable regulation. Operators need to know what the rules are, how they will be enforced, and the market will do the rest.

What, if anything, should the Texas Railroad Commission do to limit carbon dioxide, methane and other emissions from energy companies in Texas?

Nothing. The commission doesn’t have jurisdiction over air emissions. And operating companies are already investing big dollars to remove methane emissions in particular from their operations. I applaud their efforts, but the RRC doesn’t have a role to play in air emissions.

How do you assess the environmental impact of drilling for natural gas? And how do you weigh the cost-benefit ratio?

I assess the impact as a HUGE win for Texas. The EPA concluded a five-year study finding that there were no systemic harmful impacts from drilling to groundwater. We have to be honest and recognize that most of this drilling is taking place thousands of feet underground and that our water resources are secure. Texas/Texans have reaped BILLIONS of dollars from natural gas production – and it’s making our environment better because natural gas electric generation is replacing coal.

What specific regulations on natural gas drilling do you support?

The current rules that are in place (there are hundreds) particularly the ones related to well-bore integrity and casing (SWR 13) that ensure groundwater is protected.

Should the Railroad Commission limit the use of flaring and require companies to recapture natural gas instead of burning it off?

The RRC rules do limit flaring. The issue is are they approving too many flaring exception requests. I’d like to see no flaring but that isn’t practical. I think the commission has done a good job of only approving flaring exception requests for things like upset conditions – but we need to constantly be monitoring requests and make certain they are necessary.

Railroad commissioners routinely use top aides as behind-the-scenes intermediaries to avoid having a public debate on controversial issues. What should be done to make sure that commissioners adhere to the letter and spirit of the state’s Open Meetings Act?

As a former Real Estate Commissioner for over six years, I understand the importance of openness and transparency – and following the Open Meetings Act. For me, this whole issue starts with changing the name of the commission so people know what it does. Right now no one knows, so they don’t care. I would work hard to change the name of the commission and ensure it conducts all its business in the open, for the public to see.