Michael Williams resigns as Railroad Commission chair
Mon January 17, 2011 3:47 pm

This is not surprising, since Williams intends to run for the U.S. Senate and would have resigned at some point. But that may not be the only reason for Williams' resignation. I was told by a former member of the Commission that Williams' two co-commissioners, Elizabeth Ames Jones and David Porter, would have voted to remove Williams as chairman at the commission's next meeting. (Indeed, moments after that phone conversation, the former commissioner called to say that Williams had resigned.) The reason for the enmity at the commission is a long-simmering dispute between natural gas pipeline companies and natural gas producers over the fees that pipelines can charge. The commission has traditionally sided with little guys against big guys (good book on the subject is David Prindle's "Petroleum Politics and the Texas Railroad Commission, pub date 1984), though even the little guys are big guys when oil and gas is the subject. Williams has sided with the pipelines (according to my source). I had previously heard that Williams wanted to be the single commissioner at the new Energy Commission (if it comes to pass), but Williams' consultant, Corbin Casteel, told me that this was not the case.

If Williams has indeed taken sides in an intra-industry fight, this will have ramifications for his Senate race. If one has to choose whether to prefer pipelines or producers as a BFF, one would prefer producers, who are more numerous and more generous at campaign time than pipeline companies.

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