Shelby County's Wayne Christian unanimously elected Texas Railroad Commission chairman
Shelby County's Wayne Christian has been appointed Chairman of the Texas Railroad Commission.
That action came on Tuesday, June 18, when former Texas RRC Chairwoman Christi Craddick stepped down and nominated Christian for the position. Christian, a Tenaha native, Center businessman and formed Texas State Representative, has served on the Railroad Commission since 2016.
At an open meeting of the Railroad Commission of Texas, Christian was unanimously elected chairman. Following the vote, Christian released the following statement:
“It has been the honor of my life to serve on the Railroad Commission during this historic period of growth for our state’s oil and gas industry,” said Christian in a prepared statement. “Largely because of Texas, America has become the largest producer of oil and gas in the world, giving us not only energy security, but national security as well.
“At the same time we have seen tremendous growth in the industry, we have seen great gains environmentally,” Christian said. “From 1970 to 2017, the six major pollutants monitored by the EPA plunged by 73 percent, while the U.S. economy grew 262 percent and its population by 60 percent.”
“As Chairman, I look forward to continuing to ensure our agency provides a consistent, predictable regulatory environment that allows businesses to thrive and protects the public from bad actors,” said Christian. “I would like to thank Commissioners Craddick and Sitton for their service and entrusting me with this honor.”
After the open meeting, Former Chairwoman Craddick made the following statement: “I look forward to Chairman Christian’s leadership. His service to Texas and his appreciation of the industry makes him a great leader for this agency.”
In a letter to the commission's staff, Christian said the agency has been returned to full strength over the last biennium.
“With funding from the legislature, we were able to meet growing demands and backfill positions that were deferred last biennium,” he said. “Overall, we have increased our total staffing level from 659 to over 780 full-time employees, the highest level in commission history.
“As a result, the Railroad Commission has been able to reduce the time it takes to receive a permit from about a week to less than three days,” Christian said. Additionally, our oil and gas inspectors exceeded their five-year inspection target and met the goal of inspecting 130,000 wells during the last fiscal year.
He said the agency also plugged 1,440 abandoned wells, exceeding the performance measure of 979 wells set by the Legislature.
A lifelong conservative businessman, Christian was elected as the state's 50th Texas Railroad Commissioner in November 2016 and became the highest ranking elected official from Shelby County, according to his biographical information.
Since taking office, Christian has been appointed by Governor Greg Abbott to the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC) as the Official Representative of Texas. The IOGCC is one of the oldest and largest interstate compacts in the nation, formed over 80 years ago when several states joined together to resolve common issues in the industry without federal intervention.
Christian graduated from high school as valedictorian, and went on to graduate from Stephen F. Austin State University with a B.B.A. in General Business in 1973. After college, Christian found success in the music industry with his country/gospel band, the Mercy River Boys and went on to be finalist for a Grammy Award in 1979.
In 1987, after gaining valuable experience in business, banking and real estate, Wayne Christian opened a financial services business – he is a three time AIG top advisor nationwide.
In 1996, Christian was elected to the House of Representatives as the first Republican elected from Deep East Texas since Reconstruction after the Civil War. During his time in the House, Christian was a leader for the conservative renaissance in the State of Texas and successfully assisted in the fight to elect a Republican majority in the Texas Legislature, according to his biography on the RRC site.
Christian served as Vice-Chair of Regulated Industries and as a multi-term member of the Energy Resource Committee. On these committees, he had direct oversight of the Railroad Commission and accumulated a strong record of standing for free markets and against burdensome regulations.
Christian said he will continue to fight to ensure the public is protected from bad actors and that all decisions are consistent and predictable to give a sense of certainty to the thousands of business owners and operators who regularly deal with the Railroad Commission. All regulations should be based on sound science and not speculation.