Luke Warford, the Democratic Party’s nominee for the Railroad Commission of Texas, appeared at the Permian Basin Petroleum Museum on Friday – the second to last stop on his “Great Texas Train Tour.”
Warford has used the time traveling from Beaumont to El Paso discussing his plans for the oil and gas industry should he take office, the 2021 winter power crisis and his opponent, incumbent Wayne Christian.
The 33-year-old started by saying the Railroad Commission of Texas, which regulates the oil and gas industry, has a great impact on Texans lives and residents of the Permian Basin know that better than anyone.
“I think Texans are ready for a change,” he said. “We’ve seen that as we’ve traveled around the state on this tour and during the course of this campaign. We know that people are responding positively to our message about keeping the lights on, about lowering peoples energy prices, about keeping air and water safe. I think these issues just simply aren’t political.”
He went on to say these topics are aligned with Texas values and he’s excited for the election in November.
Two of Warford’s main talking points during his campaign have been fixing the Texas power grid and securing energy infrastructure.
He stated that there are decisions that the Railroad Commission needs to make in preparation for the next time colder weather freezes the state.
“Within the Railroad Commission’s purview there’s two really important things. One is we need a clear weatherization standard to make sure that natural gas producers, especially the ones that are producing more and we’re more reliant on, are prepared to operate when there’s extreme weather.”
He remarked that natural gas doesn’t fail when it gets cold in northern states, like Wisconsin or Massachusetts.
“We had all of these warnings in Texas going back to 2011 that our natural gas infrastructure wasn’t prepared. The Texas Railroad Commission, it’s their job to prepare that infrastructure, to make a weatherization rule and they just didn’t do it,” he said.
He then talked about ceasing electricity supplies during the power crisis.
“The second thing is that as electricity supplies started to drop during the storm, we actually then shut off electricity supplies to more of our producers. That created a cascading effect that is what actually led to the grid failing,” he said.
He claimed Texas needs a supply chain map that clarifies who the critical producers are.
“In the same way that a hospital doesn’t lose power when there’s rolling blackouts, our critical natural gas producers should not lose power as well,” he said.
He said the Permian Basin should be intrigued by his message and plan because they’re acutely aware of the centrality of oil and gas as it relates to Texas’ economy.
“That Texas energy leadership that we’ve seen, the importance of the role of Texas oil and gas has only increased with the situation in Ukraine right now. We need someone on the Texas Railroad Commission who has a vision, not only for where we have come from but also a vision about where we’re going. We are going to want to sell natural gas to European buyers and need to be able to tell them that we have lower-emission, private carbons,” he said.
People in the Permian Basin need to able to live in the area to work in the industry and produce necessities, according to Warford, which means having clean water and clean air.
“This region continuing to be somewhere that people want to live, not just that they have to,” he remarked.
He said he wants to ensure that West Texas continues to produce but plans to make production cleaner and safer and staying true to residents in this area.
“We can maintain Texas energy leadership while keeping our air and our water clean and safe,” he said.