RRC Increases Public Access to Legal Hearings Process

Commission Streamlines Administrative Hearings Rules

August 02, 2017

AUSTIN – The Railroad Commission today approved updated procedures for its administrative hearings process. The changes make it easier for anyone, including members of the public representing themselves, to prepare for and participate in hearings. The rule changes become effective Aug. 21. 

Approximately 50 percent of hearings at the Commission involve people representing themselves without an attorney, said RRC’s Hearings Division Director Randall Collins. 

“We want the public and anyone else participating in administrative hearings before the Commission to have the greatest possible access to this important legal process. These rule updates bring greater consistency with legislative changes made to the Administrative Procedure Act, and make our processes clearer and easier to follow,” Collins said. 

Anyone determined to have standing in a case may participate in an RRC hearing on matters including, but not limited to enforcement actions, oil and gas facility permits, gas utility rate cases and surface mining applications. RRC hearings provide participants an opportunity for due process and have the effect of law. 

Among key changes, the rule updates now allow for electronic service of documents and the filing of smaller pleadings by email and fax with the Commission’s docket services. The changes also reorder the rules in the Texas Administrative Code, making them easier to understand. All the changes were made following an open public comment period on Chapter 1 of 16 Texas Administrative Code, which contains the RRC’s rules and regulations governing the agency’s practices and procedures. 

About the Railroad Commission:
Our mission is to serve Texas by our stewardship of natural resources and the environment, our concern for personal and community safety, and our support of enhanced development and economic vitality for the benefit of Texans. The Commission has a long and proud history of service to both Texas and to the nation, including almost 100 years regulating the oil and gas industry. The Commission also has jurisdiction over alternative fuels safety, natural gas utilities, surface mining and intrastate pipelines. Established in 1891, the Railroad Commission of Texas is the oldest regulatory agency in the state. To learn more, please visit https://www.rrc.texas.gov/about-us/.