The Texas Railroad Commission serves as the state regulatory agency for the oil and gas industry, natural gas utilities, intrastate pipelines and surface mining operations.
Government agencies, like humans, become less flexible with age. Established in 1891, the Texas Railroad Commission is the oldest agency in Texas. In the case of Luminant and Sulphur Springs, it appears to be applying a strict “letter of the law” interpretation of regulations rather than a reasonable common sense approach.
Luminant wants to gift nearly 5,000 acres of land in Hopkins County to the City of Sulphur Springs where it excavated over 2 million cubic yards of soil to mine the coal below. The City Council already unanimously agreed to accept the property.
Luminant has restored over 80% of the land to its former state to comply with Texas Railroad Commission regulations. To reclaim the remaining 20% would eliminate a lake created by the excavation along with a 120-foot tall mound of soil. The city wants to keep both and develop them for recreational use.
Texas Railroad Commission says the mound contains heavy metals that produce acid when contacted by rain and the acid has contaminated the lake. Luminant’s operations didn’t add anything to the soil, but simply exposed minerals already present in the soil. Luminant proposed to cover the mound with 4 feet of topsoil, seed or sod it over and adjust the pH of the lake to non-acidic levels.
Critics claim Luminant doesn’t want to spend the $4 million to remove the mound because it would only net $14 million of the bond held by the RRC. However, if they spend the $4 million and sell the property, it’s estimated they would net $21 million.
As Ronald Reagan said “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.”
Chris Dux is chairman of the Lamar County Republican Party. He can be emailed at email@example.com. Party Views publishes every other Sunday.