Texas Railroad Commission elects new chairman

The Associated Press

HOUSTON — The Texas agency that oversees oil and gas drilling in the state has elected a new chairman who will oversee a thorough review ordered by the Legislature.

Barry Smitherman was elected Tuesday chairman of the Texas Railroad Commission. He replaces Elizabeth Ames Jones who recently resigned.

The Railroad Commission approves oil and gas drilling permits, and oversees other aspects of the state’s energy field. It does not oversee railroads.

Smitherman says he will ensure the agency uses scientific standards in decision-making, because “we must not let the political appointees in Washington kill our economic engine and kill our jobs.” Texas often opposes federal regulation over drilling and environmental issues.

He will also oversee the thorough review of the agency’s operations, rules and regulations by the Sunset Advisory Commission.