Perspectives on Competition from Regulation Veteran
Barry Smitherman is a former Texas PUC Chair. He also served as commissioner at the Texas Railroad Commission, was chair of the Gas Committee at NARUC, has run for Texas Attorney General and was a director at NRG Energy, Inc.
PUF: What have you been doing since completing your time as Chair of the PUC of Texas?
Barry Smitherman: After seven plus years at the PUCT, I immediately began service, in July 2011, as a Commissioner at the Texas Railroad Commission, the RRC. The RRC is no longer involved with railroads. But they regulate all aspects of oil and natural gas exploration and production, permit coal and uranium mines, permit and inspect intrastate pipelines, regulate alternative fuels such as propane, and set rates for local gas distribution utilities.
During my three and a half years at the RRC, we approved a number of important initiatives including requiring oil and gas operators to disclose on a national public website the chemical ingredients and water volumes used to hydraulically fracture wells in Texas; updating oil and gas well construction rules to clarify and standardize requirements related to casing, cementing, drilling, and well control and completions; encouraging water recycling and a reduction in the use of fresh water in drilling, fracking and completing wells; and implementing procedures to reduce the legal expenses typically incurred in gas utility rate cases.
I was honored during 2013-2014, to serve as chair of the Gas Committee at NARUC. In 2014, I unsuccessfully ran for Texas Attorney General.