Texas Railroad Commission - Ryan Sitton Brings Practical Industry Experience to a Critical Part of Texas Economy | Texas GOP Vote

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Texas Railroad Commission - Ryan Sitton Brings Practical Industry Experience to a Critical Part of Texas Economy

Ryan SittonLet's face it... The energy industry in Texas is one of the main reasons why we are in such solid financial condition. Protecting that segment of our economy and helping energy companies create even more jobs and tax revenue for Texas is a crucial function of the Texas Railroad Commission. Wouldn't it be great if our next Railroad Commissioner had actual experience in creating energy jobs? Ryan Sitton, who announced he was entering the race for commissioner, has that experience and would bring a solid foundation of industry experience to this position.

Recently, I sat down with Sitton to discuss the Texas Railroad Commission and how he would perceive his role in serving the people of Texas as a Railroad Commissioner. "We’ve been very blessed," Sitton responded. "It’s amazing when you look at how strong our energy industry is and particularly when you go overseas and you see how strong the United States technology and our capabilities and our approach to energy production just simply outshine everybody else in the world. So when it comes to the Railroad Commission and you look at the potential we have in front of us to do great things in energy."

"Not just in our production," he continued, "but in our export and our economic policies. To be an elected official with a business background and a technical background all in oil and gas. I think I can make a real big impact in how we do things and really help benefit all the citizens of Texans and frankly the United States by making sure we continue to be energy leaders."

Recently, the United States passed Iraq and Russia in terms of production of oil and natural gas.  With the increasing supply of natural gas, we should be well on our way to not only becoming energy independent, but becoming a major energy exporting nation. 

Ryan Sitton in Fort Bend County"We should be," Sitton stated. "Today we export very little natural gas but you’re exactly right. You look around the world, the prices our citizens pay for gas, and for refined products is a third or a fourth of what people are paying overseas. That’s great! That’s helped drive our economy. If you think about it, imagine the prowess that our state and our nation would have if we began playing on that type of economic scale. If we continue to increase our production to the point we able to not only match our needs inside the country, but now are able to compete with Russia, with South America, in terms of their energy exports. It would be a game changer and it puts the United States back to a real position of energy prowess."

However, it seems the Obama Administration is hell-bent on punishing Texas and stopping energy independence. One of the jobs of a Railroad Commissioner will be to help fight back the alphabet soup agencies of the federal government to keep Texas energy moving forward.

"Being a technical expert," Sitton responded, "I pride myself on is being able to argue and advocate why what we’re doing is leading. We can simply win that battle in the court system or in the court of public opinion or inside the technical conversations where we convince people “look, what we’re doing is right.” I’ve done that as technical expert working on court cases and on behalf of our operators dealing with the EPA and FIMSA, arguing about what things we’re doing here, why they’re technically valid. When we have good science on our background we almost always win."

So how will Texas move our economy and production forward? "First is make sure our regulations are leading the nation and that we’re able to advocate for those and explain them," Sitton explained. "The second piece is making sure that we have laid out a vision for how our energy industry will not only put our economy in The State of Texas in a strong position but to put the entire nation back on the right track. If we outline that policy and outline that vision, and we continually hit on it. We talk about it. We beat that drum. We say 'look we can not do this, or we can do this. If we do this, look how it’s going to benefit our state and our nation and not just our citizens here but give us geopolitical strength around the globe.'

Texas RoadsAll of this energy production has obviously been great for the Texas economy. However, it does come with extra costs and expenses. Heavy trucks have been tearing up our highways and county roads creating public safety and financial issues for the state and our counties. It also increases the demand for water in parts of the state that have been dealing with drought issues for years.

Sitton responded to this stating, "Any time you have growing economy, you have lots of citizens across the country and across the world that try to come to Texas. They know what we’re doing is providing jobs, providing opportunity around the country, around the state to all of our citizens. When you look at not just roads, you look at education; you look at basic infrastructure aside from roads and water. We have to look at do we have the infrastructure and systems in place to support that growing economy? Oil and gas certainly going to be a big piece of that, so what we always have to do is look forward down the road and say where is our economy going?"

Sitton continued, "When you look at roads, when you look at water, we’re going to need a long term infrastructure plan. By the way, this is independent of the oil and gas business. When you just look at the growth of citizens and the requirements for them for roads and for water, but then add oil and gas into it. We’ve got to have a good plan. The use of water when we talk about this a lot, I don’t know if people know the relative impact, the use of water in the oil and gas business is a very small percentage of total water use across the state. The number of citizens moving in is a greater impact than the oil and gas business. So we need that plan for, okay what infrastructure do we put in? How do we fund it from revenues coming in from the state already? How is it funded from industry? Where our industry costs in areas like Eagle Ford shale or like Midland or our industry needs are really driving up the infrastructure requirements. How does industry contribute to that? We need a good plan for that infrastructure development and then we have to strike that balance individually around the state in different cities and in different counties to make sure we have the right balance for funding those economic developments."

TexasGOPVote will continue to look at this very important race for the economic future of Texas. Sitton has committed to returning to talk about more specific issues related to the Texas Railroad Commission over the course of the campaign with future interviews and reports.

TRANSCRIPT OF INTERVIEW:

Political Analyst and Blogger Bob Price: We’re continuing our coverage of the Texas Federation of Republican Women State Convention here in San Antonio, Texas. Today we have with us Ryan Sitton who is running for the Railroad Commission in Texas. 

Railroad Commission Candidate Ryan Sitton: That’s right. 

Bob Price: Replacing the seat being given up by Barry Smitherman as he moves onto Attorney General. 

Ryan Sitton: Correct, thanks for having me. 

Bob Price: Thank you, and welcome to Texas GOP Vote. 

Ryan Sitton: Glad to be here. 

Bob Price: Ryan, tell us a little bit about your background and why you got into the race for Railroad Commission.

Ryan Sitton: Sure. Well I grew up in Texas, fifth generation Texan and I grew up in the Dallas area. I had three siblings there and my parents are both teachers. I grew up and then went to Texas A&M. Put myself through school there. Very proud of that. Got my mechanical engineering degree and more importantly I met my wife and we got married shortly after school. I’ve been married for 15 years now. We have three kids. We moved down to the Houston area and right after school I went into the oil business and I’ve been there ever since. I started off with some of the majors: Oxy and then Marathon. Then eventually in ’06, my wife and I started our own engineering firm. It’s called Pinnacle. We do oil and gas engineering across the state. Frankly across the country and the world. We’ve got people doing integrity analysis and equipment analysis in the Middle East, in Australia, in South America, Canada, all over the United States: as I said California, Florida, all over the place; and I’ve got three hundred people. We’ve been very blessed. It’s amazing when you look at how strong our energy industry is and particularly when you go overseas and you see how strong the United States technology and our capabilities and our approach to energy production just simply outshine everybody else in the world. So when it comes to the Railroad Commission and you look at the potential we have in front of us to do great things in energy. Not just in our production but in our export and our economic policies. To be an elected official with a business background and a technical background all in oil and gas. I think I can make a real big impact in how we do things and really help benefit all the citizens of Texans and frankly the United States by making sure we continue to be energy leaders. 

Bob Price: You know the news media doesn’t really want to tout this information because it doesn’t fit their storyline but energy in the United States has been rapidly but quietly growing as a powerful  industry. We recently passed Russia and Iraq in terms of our production of oil and natural gas. Are we becoming set up to become an exporter of natural gas at this point? 

Ryan Sitton: We should be. Today we export very little natural gas but you’re exactly right. You look around the world, the prices our citizens pay for gas, and for refined products is a third or a fourth of what people are paying overseas. That’s great! That’s helped drive our economy. If you think about it, imagine the prowess that our state and our nation would have if we began playing on that type of economic scale. If we continue to increase our production to the point we able to not only match our needs inside the country, but now are able to compete with Russia, with South America, in terms of their energy exports. It would be a game changer and it puts the United States back to a real position of energy prowess. 

Bob Price: One of the really big things standing in the way of that is the President of the United States, Barack Obama. A man that should be responsible for growing the economy of this country is actually getting in the way. How as railroad commissioner would you work to fight against what the Obama Administration is doing and keep Texas energy production moving forward? 

Ryan Sitton: It kind of comes in two parts. The first is good interstate regulation that is not only founded in good science and good engineering technique, which is what most of what we today is, but it’s also saying what we’re doing is leading the nation in terms of good technical principles and good approaches.  So for example, if we had a new standard or new regulation put out by the railroad commission to regulate as we just did wellborn integrity. Well for some reason, the EPA or DAT or FIMSA wants to come in and say “well we think you should have a different regulation” or “we think we’re going to apply these standards” as long as we can say we’re technically at the forefront. Once again, being a technical expert, I pride myself on is being able to argue and advocate why what we’re doing is leading. We can simply win that battle in the court system or in the court of public opinion or inside the technical conversations where we convince people “look, what we’re doing is right.” I’ve done that as technical expert working on court cases and on behalf of our operators dealing with the EPA and FIMSA, arguing about what things we’re doing here, why they’re technically valid. When we have good science on our background we almost always win. The second piece is export. First is make sure our regulations are leading the nation and that we’re able to advocate for those and explain them. The second piece is making sure that we have laid out a vision for how our energy industry will not only put our economy in The State of Texas in a strong position but to put the entire nation back on the right track. If we outline that policy and outline that vision, and we continually hit on it. We talk about it. We beat that drum. We say “look we can not do this, or we can do this. If we do this, look how it’s going to benefit our state and our nation and not just our citizens here but give us geopolitical strength around the globe.” If we continually talk about that, that message will get out there. The citizens of the United States will look at this and say “man, that’s the way to do it. This other stuff is plain stupid. Not to go down that road. Not to leverage our capabilities and our resources. To take our place as it should be as a global energy leader is just not the right path.” We’ve just got to continue to advocate for that. 

Bob Price: Now the current railroad commissioner, the seat that you’re running for, is held by a Houstonian. 

Ryan Sitton: Yes sir. 

Bob Price: Houston being the energy capitol. 

Ryan Sitton: Energy capitol of the world. 

Bob Price: Absolutely. Why is it important that we make sure we have a representative from Houston on the railroad commission? 

Ryan Sitton: Well I will say this. I think it’s most important that we have a representative on the railroad commission who genuinely understands the business. Now, where that person comes from is important, but more important is that they have that knowledge. Have they been in the industry for fifteen years? Have they run a business in the industry? Do they business with our producers whether they’re independents or majors, on a consistent basis so that they understand what principles are important, what policies are important, and what challenges we’re facing. That’s what’s important. Now obviously being from Houston that gives me a great perspective on that because this is what we do. Many people that are in Houston say that “well I’m not really in the oil business. I’m in the car business.” Now who do you think you’re selling those cars to? Everybody in Houston is in the oil business. We’re in the energy business. To make sure that we have someone in there that has that day to day interaction, who has that exposure, whether they’re from Houston or from Midland or other places where we have great energy businesses that are thriving in the economy is what I think is crucial for us and I’m doing that right now. 

Bob Price: Houston is one of the few places where the high gasoline prices are sign of a good economy. 

Ryan Sitton: There’s probably a handful of people in Houston that go to the pump and say “man I wish this was a little more expensive.” 

Bob Price: The Texas energy business brings a lot of revenue to The State of Texas but what if there’s a little downside? 

Ryan Sitton: Let me tell you something. The Texas energy business brings a lot of revenue to the entire country. 

Bob Price: Yeah absolutely. 

Ryan Sitton: But go ahead. 

Bob Price: There is a slight downside to the energy industry in Texas, and that is the wear and tear on our roads and infrastructure in the state. A lot of water requirements with all of the fracking. The wear and tear on these county roads is really tough with all of the heavy equipment that’s coming in there. How can we work with the energy industry to make sure that along with the good side of it that we’re also taking care of the damage and the needs of the industry in terms of water? 

Ryan Sitton: Let’s look a little bit broader. Any time you have growing economy, you have lots of citizens across the country and across the world that try to come to Texas. They know what we’re doing is providing jobs, providing opportunity around the country, around the state to all of our citizens. When you look at not just roads, you look at education; you look at basic infrastructure aside from roads and water. We have to look at do we have the infrastructure and systems in place to support that growing economy? Oil and gas certainly going to be a big piece of that, so what we always have to do is look forward down the road and say where is our economy going? What fuels that? And do we have the pieces in place to apply the things that are needed. When you look at roads, when you look at water, we’re going to need a long term infrastructure plan. By the way, this is independent of the oil and gas business. When you just look at the growth of citizens and the requirements for them for roads and for water, but then add oil and gas into it. We’ve got to have a good plan. The use of water when we talk about this a lot, I don’t know if people know the relative impact, the use of water in the oil and gas business is a very small percentage of total water use across the state. The number of citizens moving in is a greater impact than the oil and gas business. So we need that plan for, okay what infrastructure do we put in? How do we fund it from revenues coming in from the state already? How is it funded from industry? Where our industry costs in areas like Eagle Ford shale or like Midland or our industry needs are really driving up the infrastructure requirements. How does industry contribute to that? We need a good plan for that infrastructure development and then we have to strike that balance individually around the state in different cities and in different counties to make sure we have the right balance for funding those economic developments. We’ll have to look long term. I’m talking five, ten years out to make sure that we have the right plan in place. 

Bob Price: Well, Ryan I know that you’ve got a busy schedule at the convention going on here today. I want to invite you to come back to Texas GOP Vote in the future and drill down into some more specific issues and talk about some of those things, and thank you for your willingness to serve the people of The State of Texas. 

Ryan Sitton: Well I love to do it Bob, and I’ll be very proud to have an impact to make sure that our state is doing the right things and I thank you for everything you do and help get the message out about how important not just this race but all races are when it comes to our economy and certainly energy which is the central piece of our economy in Texas. Thank you for all you do. 

Bob Price: Thank you very much. I look forward to talking to you again. 

Ryan Sitton: Thanks Bob.

at Nov 7, 2013 7:46 AM