|We'll do whatever it takes to keep Eagle Ford Shale in Texas|
The House approved the Texas Railroad (er... Texas Oil and Gas?) Commission Sunset bill following a discussion that lasted about three hours this afternoon.
Of the amendments offered to SB 655, most were by House Democrats and were soundly defeated. Among them was a plan to set up three districts for the commission -- one mostly Panhandle and North Texas, another for East Texas and the Coastal Bend, and another West Texas, Rio Grande Valley, South Texas. Much of Central Texas was split between the districts.
Another defeated amendment would have let cities determine where natural gas pipelines would be allowed.
Another dealt specifically with the Barnett Shale in North Texas: It attempted to require the licensing of Registered Landmen -- the natural gas field employees who arrange for mineral and surface rights acquisition. The amendment would have allowed the Commission to set up curricula to train Landmen.
"Most resistance [to agency training of Landmen] have come from highly Republican areas," said Rep. Marc Veasey (D-Fort Worth). "... We need an agency that can discipline these people when they step out of line."
Many Republicans claimed that tighter restrictions on gas fields -- particularly the booming Eagle Ford Shale in the Coastal Bend region -- would send business to neighboring states.