Railroad Commission Chairman Smitherman Commends U.S. Supreme Court Action Today


AUSTIN—Railroad Commission of Texas Chairman Barry Smitherman commends action today by the U.S. Supreme Court regarding the regulation of greenhouse gases (GHGs).

Chairman Smitherman said, “Today Texas struck a blow for the Constitutional separation of powers envisioned by the Framers of the U.S. Constitution.”

In a decision handed down by the U. S. Supreme Court, Justice Antonin Scalia writing for the majority, held that Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was not required to regulate greenhouse gases as “air pollutants for all purposes” under the Clean Air Act, and that EPA’s rewriting of the statutory thresholds, for the allowable emission of GHGs, was impermissible. 

“An agency has no power to tailor legislation to bureaucratic policy goals by rewriting unambiguous statutory terms,” wrote Justice Scalia.  He added, “Were we (the Supreme Court) to recognize the authority claimed by EPA in the Tailoring rule, we would deal a severe blow to the Constitution’s separation of powers.  Under our system of government, Congress makes laws and the President, acting at times through Agencies like EPA, faithfully executes them.”

Chairman Smitherman said, “As the former Chairman of the Public Utility Commission of Texas, and current Chairman of the Railroad Commission of Texas, I was honored to be a named Petitioner on this and other Greenhouse Gas cases.  I applaud Attorney General Greg Abbott and the fine work that he, Solicitor General Jonathan Mitchell, and the entire Attorney General’s staff demonstrated in briefing and successfully arguing this case before the U.S. Supreme Court.” 


Chairman Barry Smitherman was appointed to the Railroad Commission of Texas in July 2011, and was elected Chairman in February 2012. In November 2012, Chairman Smitherman won a statewide election to the Commission with 74 percent of the vote, receiving more than 4.5 million votes. Chairman Smitherman currently serves as Texas’ representative on the Southern States Energy Board, and as Chair of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners’ Gas Committee. He is on the Visiting Committee of the Bureau of Economic Geology with the Jackson School of Geosciences at The University of Texas at Austin and The University of Texas School of Law Center for Global Energy, International Arbitration, and Environmental Law. He served two terms in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Electricity Advisory Committee, and was on the Public Utility Commission of Texas from April 2004 through July 2011.