Railroad Commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones Ready to Help Department of Interior Craft Sound Policy for Offshore Drilling
“Whether in shallow water or deep offshore, when it comes to drilling, best practices know no depth.”
Austin – Railroad Commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones testified Tuesday at a fact-finding forum for the U.S. Department of Interior's (DOI) new Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement (BOEMRE). The purpose of this new federal agency is to effectively regulate the offshore drilling industry. The DOI is holding fact-finding forums in various cities across the nation.
Commissioner Jones' testimony addressed ongoing issues related to the creation of this new agency; coastal protection; and the current federally mandated drilling moratorium.
Jones' stressed to the new BOEMRE director, Dr. Michael Bromwich, "our [the Texas Railroad Commission's] inland experience in addition to our unique regulatory jurisdiction in Texas' state waters of up to 3 leagues off our coast can shed light on how energy exploration and production can be handled responsibly when the appropriate regulatory tactics are in place."
Commissioner Jones echoed the other participants' aversion to the currently mandated federal moratorium over offshore drilling, referencing her past public remarks regarding the moratorium and its affect on jobs and energy security.
Specifically, Commissioner Jones weighed in on the problems with the former energy management agency, the Mineral Management Service (MMS), and expressed hope that the new agency could live up to their obligated funding owed to Texas as directed in the federal Energy Bill of 2005, which appropriated grants to coastal states to mitigate any damages from drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf. “The protection of wetlands, bays, estuaries and beaches is known to mitigate coastal damage from any threat, including man-made drilling offshore, which is much more rare than even ‘Acts of God’ such as hurricanes.” These state and local initiatives are funded from Coastal Impact Assistance Program (CIAP) funds administered by the 3 member Coastal Land Advisory Board (CLAB) on which Commissioner Jones sits.
Commissioner Jones urged Dr. Bromwich and the DOI to read her Resolution to “cease and desist” the proposed taking of states' regulatory authority over the oil and gas industry as seen in the narrowly passed House Resolution 3534, the "Consolidated Land, Energy, and Aquatic Resources (CLEAR) Act”. Commissioner Jones stated, "we Texans share no fault or blame in the disaster that happened off our coast and yet the CLEAR act proposes federal oversight of drilling in State waters when the Railroad Commission has over 100 years of regulating the energy industry onshore and offshore in Texas waters.” She also elaborated on appropriate funding and organizational concepts for the new agency.
Finally, Commissioner Jones ended her testimony by stating, "In shallow water or deep offshore, when it comes to drilling, best practices know no depth. I am eager to work with the federal government in crafting their policy related to their jurisdiction so that all the states and the entire country can enjoy the benefits of the energy that the Gulf of Mexico is so rich in.”
Elizabeth Ames Jones, 53, was elected to the Texas Legislature in a landslide-upset victory over a Republican incumbent in 2000. In 2005, she was appointed by Governor Rick Perry to a vacancy on the Texas Railroad Commission and was overwhelmingly elected to serve a six-year term in 2006. Jones is a staunch advocate for the responsible production of our country’s energy resources, tort reform, and limited government, and she lends her insight and voice to a wide range of conservative issues in Texas and nationally. Her commentaries have been published in the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post and other major newspapers.