About Roman McAllen
“I am often reminded of the saying ‘A ship in a harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are for.’ It’s not in me to live in the harbor or the sidelines. I have entered the race for Texas Railroad Commissioner because the wolves have been guarding the hen house for far too long.”
Roman McAllen is running for a place on the Texas Railroad Commission. He is a fifth-generation Texan, the city of McAllen being named for his great-great grandfather. McAllen grew up in Houston, attended the Houston public schools, and graduated with a degree in business from the University of Houston Downtown. During his college career, he earned academic and leadership scholarships and was elected president of the student body. McAllen completed a year of law school, spent a year clerking for a trial lawyer, and then worked as a claims adjuster for an insurance company. He eventually decided to pursue his interest in design and architecture and graduated from the University of Texas at Austin’s School of Architecture in 2011. McAllen subsequently moved to Brownsville, his father’s home town, where he worked for the city in planning and historic preservation. In Brownsville, he served on the Cameron County Crime Stoppers Board and restored two single-family historic homes. McAllen and his wife now live in Denton, where he works as a city preservation officer. He is on the board of Preservation Texas, a statewide organization that advocates for Texas’ historical resources.
McAllen believes the Texas Railroad Commission should change its name so Texans will be aware that this powerful commission actually regulates the oil and gas industry. He speaks against cronyism on the commission and notes that contributions to sitting commissioners from the industries they regulate make it difficult for commissioners to represent the interests of surface rights owners, local governments, and the general public’s rights to live in a clean environment. He noted, for example, that fracking operations have been exempted from the Safe Drinking Water Act. McAllen cited a study by the Sierra Club, Public Citizen, and Texans for Public Justice which found that Texas’ three sitting oil and gas regulators raised more than $11 million in recent years, taking at least 60 percent of it from the industry that they’re supposed to regulate. Another 7 percent of their money came from lawyers and lobbyists, including those with business before the commissioners.
The Texas Railroad Commission (TRC) is the oldest regulatory agency in the state, and possibly (in this writer's opinion) not only the most interesting but also the most powerful.
TRC was created in 1890 by constitutional amendment approved by popular vote, after failing five legislative attempts to be formed. It's original mission was to regulate the railroad industry; in 1917, regulation of oil and gas was added. In 2005, railroad regulation was transferred to the Texas Department of Transportation.
Ernest Thompson headed the TRC from 1932 to 1965. He, and the agency, became so effective and powerful in the gas and oil industry that the TRC was the model for formation of OPEC.
'Texas leads the nation in both oil and natural gas production. In the 2017 budget year, the oil production tax brought the state more than $2 billion in revenue, while the natural gas production tax brought in a little less than $1 billion. [Those tax monies are] divided among several state funds: the Rainy Day Fund, the State Highway Fund and the Foundation School Program.' (Texas Tribune)
McAllen's Republican opponent:
McAllen’s opponent, Republican Christi Craddick, is the current chairman of the Railroad Commission. She opposes changing the commission’s name, and she is critical of federal environmental regulations. The Austin American Statesman reported that Craddick has an interest in 150 well sites around the state. She is apparently well thought of by the industry she regulates, as she was the recipient of the Texas Independent Producers and Royalty Owners Association 2018 Hats Off Award, its highest accolade.