Jeff Weems, the Democratic candidate for the Texas Railroad Commission visited Orange Tuesday, Sept 14 to inform the citizens of Orange County of his plans.

“I want to be a Railroad Commissioner, nothing else,” Weems said. “If I win, I won’t run for anything else.  I have already signed my resignation letter and it will be given to a republican legislator with the instructions that if I am ever running for another office, it will be given to the governor and I’m out of there. We can’t have part-time Railroad Commissioners anymore.  That’s all we’ve had and that doesn’t serve Texas anymore!”

Weems feels that the Railroad Commsioner office has been a stepping stone.  People get appointed, stand for election and then start running for another government office.  “They aren’t from the oil and gas industry, they don’t understand what they are regulating,” he said.
Weems wants people to know that he is a big fan of the oil and gas industry.  “I am not out to shut it down.  I am the third generation to work in the business.  My son is a petroleum engineer,” he said.  “ I want the industry to stay strong, vital and vibrant.”

He agreed that it needs to be watched when it comes to public safety.  “When folks step in and don’t know what they are regulating, they tend to cause more harm than good,” Weems stated. “Regulate where it will protect the public.  Regulate where it makes sense.  Other than that, get out of the way.”

After passing through Orangefield, he noticed that there are a lot of abandoned wells.  This is the case all over Texas.  Property ownership gets transfered over time and the company that owned it might not exist anymore.  The company that owns the abandoned wells now might not have the money to pay for the clean up.   “The mentality has been ‘turn the other way,’” he said. “Only recently have they started talking a couple of steps toward getting people to post financial responsibility to show that they can take care it.” Unfortunately, there’s still not enough of that out there.

“I think the Railroad Commission has a lot of authority right now to really require some of this clean up and enforcement it but they really haven’t been doing it,” Weems said.

Weems also feels that Texans’ are paying too much on their utility bills.  His solution is to have prudency reviews.  “If the commission is working to keep prices down, that will help everyone.”  But everyone needs to do their part to help conserve natural gas.

Weems grew up in Houma, La. before moving to Houston during high school. 

He attended Rice University and graduated with high honors from the University of Texas at Austin in 1983 with a B.B.A. in Petroleum Land Management.  After graduating, he started working for Shell Western E&P Inc. as a landman.  Weems later left Shell and began working as an independent landman.  He enrolled at the University of Texas School of Law in 1987 and completed his studies in 1989. 

Weems then began working for premier Texas law firm, Liddell, Sapp, Zivley, Hill and LaBoon.  His primary focus was energy litigation.  Weems joined Harrison Bettis in 2000 as partner and is still with that firm today.  His practice centers on the energy industry.

He lives in Houston with his wife, Dinah, and has five children — Matthew, Kent, Virginia, Heather and Lindsay.

His achievements and awards include: Texas Super Lawyer in Energy, Texas Monthly, 2007; Associate Editor of the Texas Law Review; Honors Graduate, University of Texas School of Law, 1989; High Honors Graduate, McCombs School of Business, University of Texas at Austin, 1983; Life Fellow, Texas Bar Foundation; Life Member, 100 Club; Steward Chairman, First Congregational Church of Houston; and Board of Directors, Back Bay Misson of Biloxi, Miss.

About Nicole Gibbs

Editor of The Record Newspapers