Railroad Commission of Texas, Oil and Gas Division:
An Inventory of Oil and Gas Division State Tender Board Transcripts of Testimony at the Texas State Archives, 1939-1943
The Railroad Commission of Texas regulates the exploration, production, and transportation of oil and natural gas in Texas. Its statutory role is to prevent waste of the state's natural resources, to protect the correlative rights of different interest owners, to prevent pollution, and to provide safety in matters such as hydrogen sulfide. It oversees hazardous materials pipelines and natural gas pipelines and distribution systems as well as propane, butane, compressed natural gas, and liquefied natural gas. It works to make sure a continuous, safe supply of natural gas is available to Texas consumers at the lowest reasonable price. Additionally, the Commission regulates surface mining for coal, uranium, and iron ore gravel, and conducts a program for reclaiming lands that were mined and abandoned before 1975.
The Railroad Commission of Texas had its origin in the demands of the shipping public in the late 1880s that insisted that railroads be subject to regulation based on public interest. An advocate for governmental regulation, Attorney General James Stephen Hogg ran for Governor in 1890 with the issue of railroad regulation as the focal point of the campaign. Hogg was elected Governor in the general election and the voters also approved an amendment to Article X, Section 2 of the Texas Constitution that empowered the Legislature to enact statutes creating regulatory agencies. These elections paved the way for the Legislature to enact on April 3, 1891 "An Act to Establish a Railroad Commission of the State of Texas," that later was placed in the Texas Revised Civil Statutes under article 6444 et seq. (House Bills 1, 3, and 58, 22nd Texas Legislature, Regular Session).
The Commission originally consisted of three members appointed by the Governor for three-year terms. Governor Hogg appointed the first three Commissioners in 1891 including John H. Reagan, who resigned as U.S. Senator from Texas to serve as the first Chairman. The Texas Constitution, Article XIX, Section 30 was amended in 1894 to provide for elective six-year overlapping terms for the Commissioners. That same year John H. Reagan was elected and served until his retirement in 1903.
The Texas Railroad Commission was the first regulatory agency created in the State of Texas and originally had jurisdiction over the rates and operations of railroads, terminals, wharves and express companies. The legal focus was on intrastate passenger and freight activities. Interstate jurisdiction fell under the U.S. Interstate Commerce Commission. For the first twenty-five years of its existence, the Railroad Commission was largely concerned with regulating railroads, setting rates, receiving complaints, and making investigations. As other controversies arose where the Legislature deemed that the public interest could best be served by regulation, additional duties were assigned to the Railroad Commission.
The Railroad Commission's authority was broadened beginning in 1917 with the passage of the Pipeline Petroleum Law (Senate Bill 68, 35th Legislature, Regular Session) that declared pipelines to be common carriers like railroads and placed them under the Commission's jurisdiction. This was the first act to designate the Railroad Commission as the agency to administer conservation laws relating to oil and gas. The Commission's regulatory and enforcement powers in oil and gas were increased by the Oil and Gas Conservation Law (Senate Bill 350 of the 36th Legislature, Regular Session), effective June 18, 1919. This act gave the Railroad Commission jurisdiction to regulate the production of oil and gas. Acting upon this legislation, the Commission adopted in 1919 the first statewide rules regulating the oil and gas industry to promote conservation and safety, including Rule 37. This rule requires minimum distances between wells at drilling sites in order to protect field pressure and correlative rights.
The Oil and Gas Division works to prevent the waste of oil, gas, and geothermal resources and to prevent the pollution of fresh water from oil and gas operations. The division holds statewide hearings on market demand and provides for equitable production among operators by establishing monthly production allowables. It issues drilling permits, reviews and approves oil and gas well completions, collects data on oil and gas operations, and promotes public safety. It also protects underground drinking water through regulation of the underground injection of fluids in oil field operations, a program approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act. It oversees well plugging operations, site remediation, underground hydrocarbon storage, hazardous waste management, and maintains a large amount of data on wells - their location, production, etc. The division also investigates complaints and conducts other investigations. This division maintains 10 district offices where field enforcement and support personnel monitor oil and gas operations. The commission does not have the authority to set oil and gas prices at the wellhead. The departments within the Oil and Gas Division are: Administration, Technical Permitting, Field Operations, Administrative Compliance, and the Oil Field Cleanup Program, which includes Site Remediation and Well Plugging.
(Sources: Guide to Texas State Agencies, various editions; general laws and statutes; the Railroad Commission website (http://www.rrc.state.tx.us/about/index.php), accessed on February 9, 2009; and the records themselves.)
The Railroad Commission, through its Oil and Gas Division, regulates the exploration, production, and transportation of oil and natural gas in Texas. These records consist of transcripts of testimony at hearings held by the State Tender Board, Oil and Gas Division, Railroad Commission of Texas. The records date from 1939 to 1943. The State Tender Board was part of the Oil and Gas Division's Pipe Line, Refining and Tender Section. This section was set up to control the movement of oil from the time it is produced until it is consumed in Texas, or until its export from Texas as crude oil or a refined product. These movements were checked by means of tender bids which were approved and numbered in the district offices. The section received various reports and made weekly reports of stocks of crude oil and petroleum products and monthly estimates of empty storage facilities for petroleum in Texas.
Most of these transcripts are from hearings held at Kilgore by the State Tender Board and concern the East Texas oil field. Subjects of the hearings include organization report of a company, name change of a company, change of officers in a company, request to operate a pipeline, request to operate a treating plant, request to clean storage tanks, and special hearings to approve tender offers between companies for movement of oil.
This finding aid describes one series of the Railroad Commission of Texas records. See Railroad Commission of Texas: An Overview of Records for more records series.
Restrictions on Access
Materials housed in the State Archives do not circulate, but may be used in the State Archives search room. Materials will be retrieved from and returned to storage areas by staff members.
Restrictions on Use
Most records created by Texas state agencies are not copyrighted and may be freely used in any way. State records also include materials received by, not created by, state agencies. Copyright remains with the creator. The researcher is responsible for complying with U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17 U.S.C.).
(Identify the item), Oil and Gas Division State Tender Board transcripts of testimony, Railroad Commission of Texas records. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
Accession number: unknown
These records were probably transferred to the Archives and Information Services Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission by the Railroad Commission of Texas with other Railroad Commission records, but the date of transfer is unknown.
Described by Paul B. Beck, June 1986
DACS compliance by Laura K. Saegert, February 2009
Detailed Description of the Records