Railroad Commission Authority and Jurisdiction

What does the Railroad Commission have jurisdiction over?

The Railroad Commission of Texas (Commission) is the state agency with primary regulatory jurisdiction over the oil and natural gas industry, pipeline transporters, natural gas and hazardous liquid pipeline industry, natural gas utilities, the LP-gas industry, and coal and uranium surface mining operations. The Commission exists under provisions of the Texas Constitution and exercises its statutory responsibilities under state and federal laws for regulation and enforcement of the state’s energy industries. The Commission also has regulatory and enforcement responsibilities under federal law including the Surface Coal Mining Control and Reclamation Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, Pipeline Safety Acts, Resource Conservation Recovery Act, and Clean Water Act.

What DOES NOT fall under the jurisdiction of the Railroad Commission?

The Commission does not have jurisdiction over railroads, roads, traffic, noise, odors, oil and gas leases and agreements, pipeline easements or royalty payments.


When the Railroad Commission of Texas was created in 1891, the agency was charged with oversight of the rail industry. Over the course of history, the Commission’s duties have evolved and all rail functions have been transferred to other agencies. Legislation has been introduced to change the name of the agency to better reflect its current jurisdiction, but to date such legislation has not passed.

Roads and Traffic: The Commission does not have jurisdiction over, and exercises no regulatory authority with respect to, private or public roads or road use.  Permits issued by the Commission for oil and gas exploration, production and waste disposal do not limit any independent authority of a municipality, county or other state agencies with respect to road use. Information concerning local ordinances in the Barnett Shale is available on the Barnett Shale Energy Education Council website [http://www.bseec.org/]. Information on local ordinances for other cities and counties is available on the Texas Online portal [http://www.texas.gov/en/Pages/default.aspx].

The Texas Department of Transportation oversees the construction and maintenance of state highways within their jurisdiction. In addition, TXDOT is responsible for issuing access permits to well sites from a roadway on the state highway system. TXDOT district office information is available on the agency’s website [http://www.txdot.gov/inside-txdot/district.html].

Noise: Noise complaints should be reported to the local law enforcement agency. The Commission has no statutory authority over noise or nuisance related issues. Noise and nuisance related issues are governed by local ordinances. For more information on local ordinances, visit the Texas Online portal [http://www.texas.gov/en/Pages/default.aspx]for links to cities and counties in Texas.

Odors and Air Contaminants: The Commission does not have regulatory authority over odors or air contaminants. However, for a well within the city limits, the city may enact ordinances regarding odors or other nuisances. In addition, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has jurisdiction over odor and air contaminants. Visit the TCEQ website for more information about how to file odor complaints [http://www.tceq.state.tx.us/complaints/odor_complaint.html] and obtain information about air contaminants related to oil and gas facilities [http://www.tceq.texas.gov/assistance/industry/oil-and-gas/oilgas_air.html].

Oil and Gas Exploration and Surface Ownership: General information pertaining to exploration and surface ownership is available on the Commission’s website [http://www.rrc.texas.gov/media/8676/surfaceownerinfo.pdf ].

Royalty payments: General information pertaining to leases and royalties is available on the Commission’s website [http://www.rrc.texas.gov/about-us/resource-center/faqs/royalties-faq/].