By RANDY ROSS - Longview News-Journal - Friday, February 08, 2008
Protecting the waters of Texas is a priority for Dale Henry.
The 76-year-old Democratic candidate for the Texas Railroad Commission said the production of oil and gas in Texas does not matter if the industry destroys Texas' natural water sources.
"We have to stop wasting and contaminating our water," Henry said.
Henry faces Art Hall of San Antonio and Mark Thompson of Hamilton in the Democratic primary election on March 4.
Henry has more than 40 years of experience working in the oil and natural gas fields in the United States and abroad, according to his campaign Web site. He has a bachelor of science degree in petroleum engineering from the University of Texas at Austin.
"I've been hands-on from the top to the bottom," Henry said. "I more or less speak the language of the oilfield."
The Railroad Commission is the state agency that regulates the oil and gas industry, gas utilities, pipeline safety, safety in the liquefied petroleum gas industry and the surface mining of coal. Established by the Legislature in 1891, the commission is the state's oldest regulatory agency, according to the agency's Web site.
The self-described environmentalist from Lampasas is a former city manager and county commissioner. He also founded 4 Arrows, the first cementing service company contracted by the railroad commission.
Henry said his experience in the oil and gas industry make him an ideal candidate for the commission. He said he knows the commission's rules and regulations from working as a contractor, and he would be able to begin working on his first day.
The oil and gas industry has a strong economic impact on the state, he said. That impact has come at a cost to the public, he said.
Henry said the commission has for many years considered the economics of the industry more important than public safety. He said that philosophy has changed in recent years, but it needs to continue to change. He said the commission must consider what is in the public's best interest.
"Environmentally, we have a problem," Henry said.
He said companies often cut corners when installing casing in wells to save money. As time erodes sealing and concrete shifts, water begins flowing and drawing out contaminants.
By forcing companies to install casing properly, Henry said companies would save more money in the long-term by avoiding remedial and repair work.
"These are serious matters," Henry said.
Attempts to reach Republican incumbent Michael Williams for comment were unsuccessful Thursday.
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